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, August 17, 2012

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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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