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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Consequences of trade, manufacturing and use of lung cancer causing asbestos based products


Smt Sonia Gandhi
Congress Parliamentary Party
New Delhi

Subject-Consequences of trade, manufacturing and use of lung cancer causing asbestos based products


This is to draw your urgent attention towards the news report 'Chinese car maker Chery announces Brazil recall of 12,500 vehicles for asbestos' (Washington Post, August 30, 2012) revealing recall of cars sold after asbestos was found in engine and exhaust gaskets by Chery International, a Chinese automaker. The news report is attached. This follows ban on entry of China-made cars containing incurable cancer causing asbestos in its structure in Australia. Australia is one of the 53 countries that have banned the import of asbestos. India is yet to ban it. Almost all the vehicles in India are laden with asbestos based components. There is no building in India which is asbestos free.

I submit that taking cognizance of threats to life and public health; more than 50 countries have banned production, use, manufacture and trade of the hazardous mineral fiber, ASBESTOS. These countries are: Algeria, Czech Republic, Iceland, Malta, Seychelles, Argentina, Denmark, Ireland, Mozambique, Slovakia, Australia, Egypt, Israel, Netherlands, Slovenia, Austria, Estonia, Italy, New Caledonia, South Africa, Bahrain, Finland, Japan, Norway, Spain, Belgium, France, Jordan, Oman, Sweden, Brunei, Gabon, South Korea, Poland, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Germany, Kuwait, Portugal, Turkey, Chile, Greece, Latvia, Qatar, United Kingdom, Croatia, Honduras, Lithuania, Romania, Uruguay, Cyprus, Hungary, Luxembourg and Saudi Arabia. All the 27 countries of European Union have banned it.

I wish to inform you that on August 15 August, 2012 news came from Australia that an Australian importer has recalled 23,000 cars made by China's Great Wall Motor Co Ltd and Chery Automobile Co after deadly asbestos fibres were found in engines and exhaust gaskets. The importer, Ateco Automotive has been asked by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to replace affected components in the cars. Dealers have also been asked to stop selling the asbestos laden cars. The news report ‘23,000 China-made cars recalled in Oz for asbestos parts’ is attached.

I submit that this news is quite relevant to our country because disregarding disastrous public health consequences, trade, manufacture and consumption of asbestos based products is rising at an alarming rate due to fiscal incentives of the central government since 1982.

I submit that the World Health Assembly Resolution on cancer prevention has urged the countries to pay special attention to cancers for which avoidable exposure is a factor, including exposure to chemicals at the workplace. The World Health Assembly has requested WHO to carry out a global campaign for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases. WHO Resolution is aimed at eliminating asbestos-related diseases is particularly targeted at countries still using chrysotile asbestos, in addition to assistance in relation to exposures arising from historical use of all forms of asbestos.

I submit that besides mining of asbestos of all kinds, trade in asbestos waste (dust & fibers) is banned in India. In June 1993, central government stopped the renewal of existing mining leases of asbestos. The mining activity was banned by Union Ministry of Mines. It is strange that while mining of asbestos is banned in our country due to adverse health impact, the same is being imported from Russia, Canada and other countries. It may be noted that Canada has a no home use policy and it is investing to decontaminate its built environment of asbestos.

I submit that UN headquarters has been decontaminated of asbestos besides Canadian House of Commons. It is about time Indian buildings like its legislatures, courts, schools, hospitals etc also became asbestos free.

I submit that the term asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. The principal forms of asbestos are chrysotile (white asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos). Other forms are amosite, anthophylite, tremolite and actinolite. It is noteworthy that chrysotile asbestos represents 100% of the global asbestos trade.

I submit that according to a Fact sheet No.343 of World Health Organisation (WHO) titled ‘Asbestos: elimination of asbestos-related diseases’ dated July 2010, “All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans, and may cause mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary. Asbestos exposure is also responsible for other diseases, such as asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), pleural plaques, thickening and effusions.” The harmful effects of asbestos of all kinds have been established conclusively.

I submit that the Indian Mines Ministry has consistently informed the Parliament that “In view of the hazardous effect of asbestos mining on health, the Government has decided not to grant any new lease for mining of asbestos and minerals found along with asbestos. It does not renew the existing mining leases of asbestos. In view of the deleterious effect of asbestos mining on the health of the workers, the government has ordered the State governments in 1986 not to grant any new mining lease for asbestos (including chrysotile variety) in the country.

It is noteworthy that in 1995, Supreme Court of India held that “The development of the carcinogenic risk due to asbestos or any other carcinogenic agent does not require continuous exposure. The cancer risk does not cease when the exposure to the carcinogenic agent ceases, but rather the individual carries the increased risk for the remaining years of life. The exposure to asbestos and the resultant long tragic chain of adverse medical, legal and societal consequences, reminds the legal and social responsibility of the employer or producer not to endanger the workmen or the community or the society. He or it is not absolved of the inherent responsibility to the exposed workmen or the society at large. They have the responsibility-legal, moral and social to provide protective measures to the workmen and to the public or all those who are exposed to the harmful consequences of their products. Mere adoption of regulations for the enforcement has no real meaning and efficiency without professional, industrial and governmental resources and legal and moral determination to implement such regulations.”

I submit that unmindful of this asbestos has become so widespread in the country that on December 9, 2009 even President’s helicopter hit an abandoned asbestos roof.

I submit that it high time India stopped procuring raw asbestos fibers from Russia’s Ural Asbestos Mining & Ore Dressing Company, the world's largest manufacturer. It should rescind its asbestos trade related agreements with Canada, Kazakhstan and Brazil.

I submit that public health experts and environmental and occupational health specialists have argued for long that asbestos should be buried not people. The continued use of asbestos in India is bound to lead to a public health disaster of asbestos-related illness and premature death for decades to come. This will be repeating the epidemic that is witnessed today in developed countries that used asbestos in the past.

I submit that both International Labour Organization (ILO) and WHO recognize that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos, replace asbestos with safer substitutes, take measures to prevent exposure to asbestos in place and during asbestos removal and improve early diagnosis, treatment, social and medical rehabilitation of asbestos-related diseases and to establish registries of people with past and/or current exposures to asbestos. ILO also passed a resolution seeking elimination of future usage of asbestos of all forms in June 2006. How can such glaring scientific and medical facts be ignored?

I submit that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to all the State Governments, Union Territories and concerned ministries of central government to file the status of asbestos disease victims and asked them why it should not be banned. The Commission has underlined that keeping inmates under asbestos roof is harmful and alternative roofs should be used. But so far only the States of Mizoram, Nagaland and the National Institute of Occupational Health Ahmedabad have submitted the reports. NHRC’s intervention has been sought for a ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos), which is hazardous for the health of people and causes various incurable diseases. While Government has rightly banned mining of asbestos, yet it allowed its import and that too from the countries like Canada which did not prefer its domestic use.

I submit that unmindful of such developments in the world and within the country, it appears that Ministry of Commerce is unable to resist asbestos industry’s influence in public interest and desist from signing the "Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement" (CEPA) with Canada that allows the export of cancer causing Canadian asbestos to India. The New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada, the official Opposition party has revealed the efforts of Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper government to eliminate trade tariffs on exports of lethal Canadian asbestos to India. “It is a disgrace that the Harper government has opposed the global effort to ban this substance,” NDP said in a release dated December 5, 2011.

I submit that Quebec provincial government’s $58 million subsidy to re-open the Jeffrey asbestos mine reveals that asbestos traders remain callous towards the public health crises that has emerged due to asbestos exposure. Jeffrey mine plans to export 200,000 tonnes of asbestos annually to Asian countries including India for the next 25 to 50 years.

I submit that Québec's Medical and Health authorities are also opposed to this asbestos mining project. Their call on the Québec government to stop the mining and export of asbestos has been ignored.

I submit that besides WHO and ILO the International Trade Union Confederation that represents 176 million workers in 151 countries have called for an end to the use of all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos.

I submit that asbestos is claiming more than 100,000-150,000 cancer deaths a year worldwide.

I submit that while Canadian government is spending millions of dollars to remove chrysotile and other forms of asbestos from public buildings. This removal is underway even in Quebec’s schools, hospitals and buildings in order to protect the lives of the Quebec people.

I submit that Central Governments and State Governments should resist the tremendous influence of Chrysotile asbestos cement products manufacturers association in India, global asbestos industry in general and Canadian asbestos industry in particular. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs besides Planning Commission and State Governments need to coordinate efforts to eliminate asbestos and asbestos based products from the country.

I submit that the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) has called for a global ban on the mining, sale and use of all forms of asbestos and the elimination of asbestos-related diseases.

I submit that there is international consensus has recommended that a total ban on production and use of all forms of asbestos is the best way to eliminate the occurrence of asbestos-related diseases.

I submit that Delhi Government has banned use of asbestos roofs for new schools but sadly the same has not been extended to other buildings and products. In the meanwhile villagers’ protest in Muzaffarpur and Vaishali in Bihar has led to closure of asbestos factories. The construction of lung cancer causing white asbestos plants in Madhubani, West Champaran and production in Bhojpur districts is also facing resistance.

I submit that villagers are protesting against the proposed hazardous asbestos cement roofing factories in Sambalpur and Bargarh district of Odisha. As a result the Sambalpur plant has been stopped. Protests against asbestos factories in states like Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh is also going on.

I wish to draw your attention towards the recommendations of Kerala State Human Rights Commission. It made three recommendations banning use of asbestos roofs in its order dated January 31, 2009. The recommendations are: “a) The State Government will replace asbestos roofs of all school buildings under its control with country tiles in a phased manner. b) The Government will take steps to see that the schools run under the private management also replace the asbestos roofs with country tiles by fixing a time frame. c) The Government should see that in future no new school is allowed to commence its functions with asbestos roofs.” All State Human Rights Commissions ought to initiate steps to make their states asbestos free by adopting it.

In such a scenario, it is quite disturbing that asbestos cement based building materials are being used in the Union Rural Development Ministry’s Indira Awas Yojna. Central government’s Rs 10, 000 crore worth annual housing flagship scheme endangers the rural poor as it is using carcinogenic asbestos sheets to keep the cost below the ceiling of Rs 45,000 per house under the scheme. Government should put a stay on use of such hazardous building materials and adopt alternative materials for both rural and urban housing schemes like Rajiv Awas Yojna. A NHRC member has objected to such cruel disregard for the lives of the unsuspecting poor who is bound to get exposed to killer fibers of asbestos.

I submit that incessant campaign seeking asbestos free India has persuaded several ministries of Government of India and other agencies to discourage and phase out white asbestos trade. But the fact remains India remains one of the key consumers of asbestos from Quebec, Russia and other countries. Years of efforts by citizen groups are beginning to yield results.

I submit that Union Ministry of Labour revealed that that the “Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos" in concept paper by Union Ministry of Labour at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on “Occupational Safety and Health” during 19-20 September, 2011. The Union Ministry of Chemicals took the right step on June 21, 2011 when it disassociated India from Canada and other asbestos producing countries in order to get white asbestos listed in the UN list of hazardous materials. Union Ministry of Railways is working to make all railway platforms in India asbestos free. The Vision Statement on Environmental Health of Union Ministry of Environment & Forests’ reads: “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out”. The Union Ministry of Finance has announced that asbestos related diseases will be covered under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana but this is hardly sufficient in the absence of environmental and occupational infrastructure. It is high time government withdrew fiscal incentives from the asbestos industry to discourage use of asbestos products instead of promoting it.

I submit that disregarding the epidemic of asbestos related diseases due to past exposure, new factories are coming up all over the country. White asbestos based business enterprises appear to have misled political parties that are ruling in the central and state governments into ignoring ban on it by almost all the developed countries.

I submit that Dow Chemicals Company has set aside $2.2 billion in compensation fund to address future asbestos-related liabilities arising out of acquisition of Union Carbide Corporation and its Indian investments in 1999. Many manufacturers of asbestos-containing products have gone bankrupt in USA as a result of asbestos litigation. Government should also set up a compensation fund to provide compensation to the asbestos victims of past exposure by making asbestos based companies liable for knowingly exposing workers, consumers and citizens to asbestos fibers.

In short, there is an urgent need to boycott asbestos products, phase out asbestos and asbestos based products, decontaminate asbestos laden building and products, to prepare a register of asbestos workers and victims of asbestos related diseases, to build environmental and occupational health infrastructure, to identify asbestos laden buildings, to prepare an inventory asbestos laden products, to set up a compensation fund for occupational and non-occupational victims of asbestos exposure.

I submit that malignant asbestos-related diseases include lung cancer, mesothelioma and cancers of the ovary and larynx.) There is sufficient evidence that amphibole asbestos (e.g., crocidolite) and serpentine asbestos (e.g., chrysotile) both cause malignancies of the lung, pleura and peritoneum.) Non- malignant asbestos-related diseases include asbestosis and pleural abnormalities such as pleural thickening, pleural calcification and pleural effusion.)

I also urge you ensure that the governments urgently initiates efforts aimed at primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of asbestos-related diseases through country-specific “National Programmes for Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases” in line with ILO and WHO guidelines.

I also wish to take the opportunity to seek an appointment for a delegation to meet you to share relevant documents and insights in this regard.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully

Gopal Krishna

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

New Delhi

Mb: 9818089660


Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Government of India

Shri Nitin Gadkari, President, Bhartiya Janata Party

Shri Prakash Karat, General Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Shri Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, General Secretary, Communist Party of India

President, All India Tirnamool Congress

Shri Sharad Pawar, President, Nationalist Congress Party

Shri Sharad Yadav, President, Janata Dal (United)

Shri Mulyam Singh Yadav, President, Samajwadi Party

Kumari Mayawati, Chairperson, BSP Parliamentary Party

Cabinet Secretary, Government of India

Chief Minister, Government of Bihar

Chief Minister, Government of Tripura

Chief Minister, Government of Uttar Pradesh

Chief Minister, Government of Tamil Nadu

Chief Minister, Government of Punjab

Chief Minister, Government of Goa

Chief Minister, Government of West Bengal

Chief Minister, Government of Madhya Pradesh

Chief Minister, Government of Odisha

Chief Minister, Government of Jharkhand

Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs

Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance

Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law & Justice

Chairman, Public Accounts Committee

Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence

Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs

Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture

Hon’ble Members of Parliament

Comptroller & Auditor General of India

Lt Governor, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi

Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh

Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar

Chief Secretary, Government of Chattisgarh

Chief Secretary, Government of Goa

Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat

Chief Secretary, Government of Haryana,

Chief Secretary, Government of Himachal Pradesh

Chief Secretary, Government of Jammu and Kashmir

Chief Secretary, Government of Jharkhand

Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka

Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala

Chief Secretary, Government of Madhya Pradesh

Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra

Chief Secretary, Government of Orissa

Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab

Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan

Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu

Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh

Chief Secretary, Government of Uttarakhand

Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal

Chief Secretary, Government of Puducherry

Chief Secretary, Government of Arunachal Pradesh

Chief Secretary, Government of Assam

Chief Secretary, Government of Manipur

Chief Secretary, Government of Meghalaya

Chief Secretary, Government of Mizoram

Chief Secretary, Government of Nagaland

Chief Secretary, Government of Sikkim

Chief Secretary, Government of Tripura

Chief Secretary, Government of Andaman and Nicobar (UT)

Administrator, Government of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (UT)

Administrator, Government of Daman and Diu (UT)

Administrator, Government of Lakshadweep (UT)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Coalition Avenir Quebec Says It Will Stop Export Of Cancer-Causing Asbestos To India

Asian Journal, August 17, 2012

Harper says oilsands pipeline decision will be based on science – but what about asbestos?

NO decent Quebecer should vote for the Liberal Party in the September 4 provincial election because Premier Jean Charest has disgraced himself by providing a loan of $58 million to reopen the province’s asbestos mine.

And like the typical OPPORTUNISTIC politician, Charest did that ONLY for votes as he knew he was soon going to call an election. It didn’t matter how IMMORAL that policy was. As the Globe and Mail newspaper pointed out: “While most Quebeckers oppose asbestos mining, the plan [to relaunch the asbestos mine] will have plenty of backers around the mine location in the Eastern Townships, where seats can swing.”

That cancer-causing asbestos has killed countless poor Indians in India already and now South Asian businessman BALJIT CHADHA (Montreal Gazette reported that Chadha and Jeffrey Mine President Bernard Coulombe are now co-owners of a new company called

Mineral Fibre Inc. which owns the Jeffrey Mine) is ready to do his demonic part to KILL more Indians.

And then we South Asians have the nerve to accuse white guys of racism for every little thing!

But thank God there are decent WHITE politicians out there who want to end this MASS MURDER of poor Indians.

Charest’s Liberal Party is facing a tough fight as the latest polls indicate. On Wednesday, the Globe and Mail reported that the’s vote and seat projection model shows that the Parti Quebecois (PQ) still held the lead with a projected 34.5 per cent support (58 seats likely), while the Liberals had 32.7 per cent support (47 seats likely). The Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) would likely get 18 seats with their 22.7-per-cent support.

PQ Leader Pauline Marois said her party was “very shocked” that Charest announced the loan without a debate and added that the PQ would hold a “societal debate” in Quebec’s legislature about what to do with the asbestos industry.

Hopefully, the PQ members, if their party wins, will have the good moral sense and decency to ban this deadly product.

CAQ Leader Francois Legault has shown more decisiveness and character than Marois on this issue. He told reporters that there was no need for a debate and that if his party were elected, they would phase out asbestos exports altogether.

He said that asbestos “does not conform to the values of Quebecers” and that they “have to turn the page.” He also told the media later: “We can’t let people die to save a job. There are limits.”

BY the way, I was wrong in stating in past write-ups that Canada has banned asbestos. Kathleen Ruff, senior human-rights adviser with the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute, told me that it has not been banned, but “it is strictly regulated, so that it would be prohibitively costly to use, if one used it. But people don’t use it, because they know it is deadly. So there is a virtual ban on asbestos in Canada. Most Canadians think it is banned.”

THIS brings me to the HYPOCRISY of Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is all for exporting asbestos to India where it is causing innumerable deaths and immense suffering to poor Indians.

All the world’s most respectable and leading health experts, publications and organizations, including the WHO, have openly condemned Canada for exporting asbestos. For example, Ivan Ivanov, the team leader of occupational health at the WHO Department of Public Health and Environment, says “there is no safe threshold of exposure to all forms of asbestos” and that WHO wants a stop to the use of all types of asbestos as the most efficient way to get rid of all asbestos-related diseases.

Yet this same Harper has the cheek to declare that the oilsands pipeline decision will be based purely on science!

What about asbestos, Harper?

Last January, when asbestos-removal contractor Arthur Moore of AM Environmental was sentenced to 60 days in the slammer by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Richard Goepel for putting the lives of his workers – some as young as 14 years of age – in danger by not providing them proper safety training and equipment, I pointed out that Workers’ Compensation Board lawyer Scott Nielsen told the judge a month earlier: “ASBESTOS KILLS. It was the LEADING KILLER of workers in B.C. in 2009, responsible for 44 PER CENT OF ALL DEATHS arising from employment.” [Capitalizations mine for emphasis.]

And Simon Fraser University health scientist Tim Takaro noted: “As a physician caring for asbestos patients, prevention of exposure is the key to reversing the current tide of death and disease.”

He added: “Meaningful sentences for employers who knowingly put workers at risk are a key tool in preventing these diseases.”

And then he bluntly pointed out: “The same can be said for the governments of Canada and Quebec WHO PROMOTE THE DEADLY PRODUCT IN INDIA and other rapidly developing countries.” [Capitalization mine for emphasis.]

So shouldn’t we send IMMORAL POLITICIANS who kill people with asbestos to jail?

I think the United Nations should intervene!

AND on Wednesday, what I had been warning readers about came true!

In my column two weeks ago, in the piece titled “With Yet Another Enbridge Oil Spill, It’s Best Not To Allow Northern Gateway Pipeline In B.C.” I wrote: “And please do NOT believe any of the propaganda that the oil company is soon going to unleash to try and fool British Columbians.”

Sure enough, Enbridge Inc. acted as the ALMIGHTY GOD by making 1,000 square kilometres of islands disappear from Douglas Channel in its animated depiction of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route, amking it appear to be a safe, open waterway!
Wow! Mighty convenient, eh!

Lori Waters, a Vancouver Island researcher, exposed this deception on Facebook. The company came up with the feeble excuse that the animation contains a disclaimer that says it’s “broadly representational.”

What a joke!

And a very bad one, indeed!

The company said that another video showing the channel in detail along with technical reports of the marine route were on their website.

But does everyone have the time to do their own research on the website?

Let’s get real!


Jeffrey mine encounters severe financial crisis, Aug 18, 2012

Less than two months after the Quebec government gave Jeffrey mine a $58 million loan, the mine has encountered a severe financial crisis and has laid off about 80 if its one hundred workers.

June 29, 2012, François Vaudreuil (president, CSD trade union confederation), Hugues Grimard (mayor of Asbestos), Yvon Vallières (member of the Québec National Assembly) and Bernard Coulombe (president of Jeffrey Mine Inc) celebrate the $58 million loan given by the Québec government to open the Jeffrey asbestos mine.

The mine now belongs to Mineral Fibre (MF) Inc., a company owned by Baljit Chadha and Bernard Coulombe. Chadha, a Montreal businessman, has exported asbestos from the Jeffrey mine to developing countries for the past sixteen years. He is a personal friend and a fund-raiser for Quebec premier Jean Charest. Coulombe was president of Jeffrey Mine Inc, the company that was the previous owner of the mine.

Coulombe stated that the costs they are paying for carrying out the work to complete the underground mine were taking “a dangerous escalation”. He said that the work stoppage was a strategic decision aimed at giving time to negotiate agreements for lower prices with the mining contractor firm, C Thysen MAC, and the main suppliers for the acquisition of materials.

The workers have been laid off work apparently until mid-November.

Employees and residents of Asbestos are greatly concerned by the lay-off.

This is just one more example of the irresponsibility of the Quebec Charest government in giving a $58 million loan to finance a deadly, dying industry that has no future. The people of Asbestos deserve better. Charest is playing with their lives and their hopes for sordid political reasons to win the riding in the present election. This is not political leadership. It harms the community and it brings shame on Quebec. The $58 million should be given to build sustainable and healthy economic development that will truly help the region.

Kathleen Ruff, founder,

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vishaka Asbestos Plant Odisha comes to a grinding halt

After week long blockade in front of the gates of the Vishaka Asbestos Plant at Parmanpur in Sambalpur Dist of Odisha, the plant has come to a grinding halt. There were 9 trucks inside carrying outward material and about 12 trucks waiting raw materials including Asbestos Fibres, cement and other raw material, which remained lined up in the heavy rains since past one week.

The road blockade, by the farmers of the region, supported by the farmers whose land has been forcefully occupied by the company went out of stock of raw material and has come to grinding halt from today. The production today of the factory has been shutdown after this.

The relentless fight of the people is now bearing fruit, with the administration bowing down to the legitimate pressure induced by people of the region.

Also there has been a good meeting organized in the mean time by the Labour Unions, and the labour and forest ministrer Bijayashree Routray spoke in the meeting held in Bhubaneswar.

The labour unions and international organisations have demanded there to impose Ban on Asbestos - the news was published in Samaja news paper of 12th August.

Asbestos fighters network of Odisha.

Trade unions appalled by Canada’s decision to reopen asbestos mines in Québec

The Indian trade unions are outraged by Quebec’s Premier Mr Jean
Charest’s decision to grant $58 million loan to revive the Jeffery Mine.
The opening of the mine would mean export of over 5 million tonnes of
cancer causing Chrysotile Asbestos to developing countries, including
India over the next quarter of a century.

Mr. Pon Kumar, President of the Tamil Nadu Unorganised Construction
Workers Federation (TCWF) an affiliate of Building and Wood Workers
International (BWI) stated that “The decision to fund the Jeffery mines
and knowing that Asbestos would be exported to India, which will have
devastating impact on the health of millions of Indian workers, who will
handle this dangerous fibre in factories and at construction sites
should be condemned”.

Terming it ‘immoral’, Fiona Murie, Health and Safety Director of the BWI
said “At a time when countries in the west are counting bodies and
grappling with the increased number of asbestos-caused cancers, it is
indeed immoral that the Government of India is importing over four
hundred thousand metric tonnes of asbestos every year and putting it
into the built environment. Canada should be ashamed of their role in
supplying not only the asbestos, but moreso the misinformation that
denies the risks to health and encourages its use. Very little asbestos
was ever used in India until the bans were introduced in developing
countries, so by1985, use began to increase. But from 2004, when the
government of India reduced import duty on chrysotile asbestos from 78%
to only 15% the floodgates opened and it became a cheap, but deadly,
option for building materials The latency period for asbestos cancers is
around thirty years after exposure, so we can expect to see many cases
of asbestos cancers appearing in the near future, and lasting for many
years to come”.

Although mining of Asbestos is banned in India but through heavy
imports, India uses over 400,000 metric tonnes of asbestos annually,
used mostly in roofing sheets, pipes and employs about 100,000 workers
directly and indirectly in the Asbestos industry. But a comprehensive
mortality data and compensation records to show the scale of health
devastation due asbestos consumption does not exist. The asbestos
diseases are not being recognised and notified and data is not being
gathered. Employees State Insurance Corporation of India shows only 51
cases of compensation to workers suffering from asbestosis, a lung
disease caused by asbestos exposure. And only 222 cases of mesothelioma,
a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos in the protective lining of
inner organs, has been registered by the Indian Cancer Registry, Gujarat
Cancer and Research Institute and Tata Memorial Trust combined.

Hiding behind this huge lack of data, Indian asbestos stakeholders,
including the government and asbestos companies, and countries like
Canada continue to trade in a known killer. The revival of the Jeffery
mines, whose main customers will be Indian asbestos companies, is partly
financed, to the tune of $25 million, by a consortium of international
investors led by Baljit Singh Chadha.

Questioning the rationality of this decision, Mr. Karnan, General
Secretary of the TCWF stated that “Despite proven evidences, why does
the Quebec government want to revive a notorious industry that has
caused so many deaths and continues to do so. This irresponsible act
shall only taint the reputation of Canada, Mr. Karnan concluded”. Adding
on the Tamil Nadu experience, Mr. Karnan informed that a couple of years
ago the government announced to remove Asbestos sheets from schools and
also the TCWF petitioned for a state wide ban on Asbestos but
unfortunately there has been no further progress on the matter.

The BWI called upon the Government of India and of Tamil Nadu to ban the
import and use of asbestos immediately, and to help affected businesses,
communities and indivduals.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Top researcher snubs French honour over 'industrial crimes'

France 24, International News, 05 August 2012

Annie Thebaud-Mony, director of research at France's National Institute for Health and Medical Research, delivers a lecture on "Asbestos Hazards and People's Struggle World Over" in India in 2011. Thebaud-Mony has refused France's highest honour in protest at official inaction over what she described as "industrial crimes" in this sector

AFP - A top researcher and campaigner on industrial health issues has refused France's highest honour in protest at official inaction over what she described as "industrial crimes" in this sector.

Annie Thebaud-Mony, director of research at France's National Institute for Health and Medical Research, turned down the "Legion d'Honneur" in a letter to Housing Minister Cecile Duflot made public on Saturday.

Thebaud-Mony has written award-winning books on industrial health and is the spokeswoman for Ban Asbestos France.

In her letter, she said she wanted to "challenge the impunity that until now has protected those who carry out industrial crimes".

Thebaud-Mony said she was particularly concerned that the current economic crisis was eclipsing issues concerning workers' health and the environment.

"My act is intended as a call for citizens, but also for parliament to act, for the respect of basic rights to life, health and dignity," she said in her letter to the ministry, dated July 31.

"We want to be taken seriously when we expose the deterioration of working conditions ... the drama of workplace accidents and occupational diseases...," she added.

She denounced what she said was a misguided debate over the issue of safe levels of certain toxic substances.

Public officials have to take a stand against the threat that these substances pose, if necessary taking legal action against the offenders, she argued.

Thebaud-Mony said that her own career had suffered for years because of her work.

She called on the government to secure the jobs of young researchers working in the field of industrial health, in particular those investigating cancer-causing materials in the workplace.



Asian Journal, August 3, 2012
Chadha remortgages his assets to get government loan to reopen asbestos mine

LAST October in an article entitled “Yes, Mr. Baljit Chadha, You Are Exporting Death to India – And Shame on You!” I wrote:

IT boggles my mind that Baljit Chadha, the man behind the DEADLY asbestos exports from Quebec to India, can be so SHAMELESS when it comes to making money that he actually claims that the cancer-causing material that is BANNED in Canada is safe!
... Chadha told the Globe and Mail newspaper in September: “I have done a lot of soul-searching on this and have come to a conclusion that we are not exporting death.”

REALLY, Mr. Chadha?

Do you REALLY believe that in spite of all the evidence out there ... ?

The Globe and Mail said Chadha “combines an almost evangelical fervour for asbestos with the clout needed to pull off his controversial plan.”

Mr. Chadha, I guess money can perform miracles!

Chadha, in fact, was rebuked by Ivan Ivanov, the team leader of occupational health at the WHO [World Health Organization] Department of Public Health and Environment, this week for DISTORTING its position on the safety of asbestos.

He told the Globe and Mail: “There is no safe threshold of exposure to all forms of asbestos.”

He said WHO wants a stop to the use of all types of asbestos as the most efficient way to get rid of all asbestos-related diseases.

... And Kathleen Ruff, the senior human-rights adviser with the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute, told the newspaper: “Not a single reputable scientific or medical association supports the assertions put forward by Mr. Chadha.”

Chadha needs to give his thick skull a REAL BIG SHAKE.


THIS week, the Montreal Gazette reported that the provincial land registry indicates that Chadha took out a new $1.7-million mortgage on his Westmount home last April.

The newspaper noted that last year in April, the provincial Liberal government had told Chadha and Jeffrey Mine President Bernard Coulombe – who are now co-owners of a new company called Mineral Fibre Inc. which owns the Jeffrey Mine - that it would provide them a guarantee on a $58-million loan if they could get $25 million in private investments to reopen the asbestos mine.

The Montreal Gazette reported that the two businessmen have been able to find only a Thai company to invest, but the irony is that the government of Thailand is seriously considering a ban on asbestos.

That company - Ulan Marketing Co. Ltd. – has come up with $14 million and the two businessmen have put together the remaining $11 million in private investment.

Guy Versailles, a spokesperson for the Jeffrey Mine, told the newspaper when asked about reports that the businessmen had to remortgage their assets: “You have to be careful when you start talking about remortgaging and such. What we know is that businessmen like Mr. Chadha, who have all kinds of different investments, they mortgage their homes and leverage their assets left and right. It’s normal.”

Quebec Premier, Jean Charest, who is desperate to win in the upcoming provincial election, last month suddenly announce that his government would now give a $58-million loan to reopen the asbestos mine – and once again start KILLING POOR INDIANS IN INDIA with cancer and other asbestos-related diseases!

AND in India, the highly respected Hindu newspaper reports that Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA), an Indian advocacy initiative and one of two members of the Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) movement, has stepped up its lobbying with the Indian federal government to stop asbestos usage by banning imports.

TWA said in a statement: “India has taken a position which considers white asbestos a hazardous substance. Mining of asbestos is technically banned in India. Trade in asbestos waste (dust and fibres) is also banned. The government should take the next logical step and phase out asbestos use.”

TWA’s convener Gopal Krishna said: “Artificial pricing through governmental patronage has made asbestos cheaply available.

Krishna noted: “There are multiple alternatives to the multiple uses of asbestos.” He pointed out that industries and countries that have banned asbestos have managed to do without it because of the availability of substitutes. Commonly cited alternatives to asbestos are cellulose and agricultural fibres.

The Hindu said: “While Indian delegates distanced themselves from Canada’s position on asbestos trade at the U.N.’s Rotterdam Convention in 2011 by favouring listing asbestos as a restricted chemical, the Supreme Court of India refused to ban the substance in January 2011, instead directing state governments to regulate its use and manufacture.”

The newspaper also reported: “In the midst of demonstrations by villagers against asbestos plants in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha [Orissa] among others recently, TWA has urged the government to begin a compensation fund for the victims of asbestos related diseases, in addition to phasing out all use of the substance. “The only way to prevent deadly diseases is to prevent mining, trade, manufacturing and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos-based products,” said the release.”


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Not A Good Sign For Canadian Asbestos

An anti-asbestos advocate warns that one of the countries that consumes the most asbestos in the world is seeing a growing resistance to the use...

keywords: asbestos world consumes growing resistance countries

Read full article at

The devil in the asbestos deal

Montreal Gazette, August 2, 2012
Re: “Jeffrey Mine backers face headwinds” (Gazette, July 31).

In light of the recommendations of the Joint Policy Committee of the Societies of Epidemiology, which called for a global ban on the mining, use and export of all forms of asbestos, the $56-million loan offered by the Charest government must be immediately withdrawn.

There is no longer any doubt that asbestos invariably causes disease and premature death, and that continued use of this deadly chemical can lead to a public health catastrophe.

Quebec cannot afford to play the role of the devil in this asbestos deal.

Jalaluddin S. Hussain

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