Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Azhagiri's decision about Asbestos appreciated

Azhagiri's decision about Asbestos appreciated
N. ASOKAN | Chennai

The Union minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, MK Azhagiri, has received a rare appreciation from NGOs which normally complain about the functions of government. His Ministry's decision in a global forum to reverse a years long stand about Asbestos has fetched him the appreciation.

In the 5th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP5) to the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade in Switzerland on 22nd June, 2011, India has given its consensus for the listing of Asbestos in the UN hazardous and harmful chemicals list.

The moment the Indian decision was announced, the gathering comprised of international delegates gave a half a minute standing ovation. Now Canada, which is the largest exporter of Chryosotile asbestos (White asbestos) is opposing this move which means after Asbestos is listed in the PIC procedure, it is mandatory for the exporting country to provide the data about the asbestos mineral that is being exported.

In a letter to M.K. Azhagiri, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) and Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA) have expressed their appreciation to him and his team of officials in the Ministry. ''BANI and TWA salute you for resisting the influence of twins of asbestos companies- Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association and Asbestos Information Center”, the letter reads. It further states that this decision clears the way for the elimination of Asbestos in the near future.

They have also made some recommendations to the Ministry which include removing of asbestos from public and private buildings, banning the use of asbestos based products and initiating a rehabilitation programme for those affected with asbestosis. ''Azhagiri has restored the reputation of Indian Government by taking a decision based on Science. He has successfully resisted the powerful Asbestos Industry lobby," Gopal Krishna, an Environmentalist associated with BANI told TSI.

According to World Health Organisation's latest estimate, asbestos claims 107,000 lives a year. NGOs and activists all over the World are calling for stopping its use.

The Sunday Indian
June 30, 2011

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