Skip to main content

Financial MNC identifies Jaiprakash Associates among top world cos using asbestos, allegedly causing cancer

By Ashok Shrimali*
In its latest research report, “Asbestos: Assessing Exposure of Certain MSCI World Index Sectors”, Citi, the American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, has identified eight Indian companies as consuming asbestos, a product which it says “is strongly associated with disease including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.”
Pointing out that India’s asbestos cement industry accounts for 10 per cent of worldwide asbestos consumption, it says, major listed mining companies using the product are -- in Russia (Uralasbest) and Brazil (Eternit). It adds, “Jaiprakesh and a number of smaller listed Indian companies are involved in asbestos products – mainly chrysotile in asbestos cement; and Geely (HK) in the auto sector.”
The Citi analysis says, “The Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers' Association of India (ACPMA) has a detailed website that promotes the use of chrysotile asbestos-based products. ACPMA distinguishes between the amphibole group which includes crocidolite (blue) and amosite (brown) asbestos, and the serpentine group which contains chrysotile (white) asbestos. Crocidolite tends to be regarded as the most dangerous form of asbestos.”
Pointing towards the need for analysis, Citi explains, this has been carried out “in response to interest from some Asset Owners.” It adds, “We have assessed the exposure of certain MSCI World Index sectors to current asbestos mining or production, or manufacture of products that contain asbestos. Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) index is designed to measure equity market performance in global emerging markets.”
Citi further says, “ACPMA claims that only chrysotile asbestos is now mined, and that in today’s well controlled and regulated industrial plants using only chrysotile asbestos, asbestos diseases do not occur. It also claims that chrysotile-cement is safe in use. However, many countries have banned all these forms of asbestos.” It adds, “There are a number of listed Indian companies involved in asbestos products, and most are members of ACPMA.”
The Citi analysis says, the “largest of the companies it has identified is Jaiprakash Associates Limited (JAL) an India-based diversified infrastructure conglomerate. Its businesses include: engineering and construction, power (including hydropower), cement, fertilizer, real estate, expressways, hospitality, and sports and education. The company’s FY13 annual report refers to holdings in UP Asbestos Ltd, and to sales and stocks of asbestos sheets.”
The analysis further says, “Visaka Industries lists asbestos cement as one of its businesses in its August 2013 investor update. The company’s website reports that the company is the second largest cement sheet manufacturer in India, with seven factories spread across the country, producing about 650,000 tons of corrugated cement sheets per year. It also reports that its non-asbestos fiber board and panel division was established in 2009 to cater to the needs of modern construction designs, and has a capacity of 30,000 tons of sheets per year.”
Coming to the type of use the product can be put to, the Citi says, “Asbestos has insulating and fireproofing properties. It has been used in insulation (buildings, ships, industrial plant), automotive parts (eg brakes), floor, ceiling and roofing materials, asbestos cement for building applications, and fire resistant textiles. Asbestos is strongly associated with disease including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Crocidolite (blue) asbestos tends to be regarded as the most dangerous form of asbestos.”
Pointing out that asbestos use has been significantly reduced in recent decades, it says, “It has been banned in some developed countries, and heavily regulated in others. Arguments for continued use of chrysotile (white) asbestos include weighing up cost vs damage, possible risks with alternative products, and that focus should be on innovating to improve safety given asbestos’ useful properties. A small volume of chrysotile asbestos is still used in the US.”
Coming to the places it is uses, it says, “Asbestos products including asbestos-cement continue to be widely used in some developing countries, with significant use reported in China, India, Russia, Brazil and other Asian countries. In 2012, the main asbestos mining countries were Brazil, China, Kazakhstan and Russia. US asbestos mining ceased in 2002, though imports of chrysotile from Brazil continue. Canada ceased asbestos mining in 2011.”
The analysis adds, “Over the past three decades, asbestos production (mining) and consumption (eg manufactured products) have fallen from approaching 5 million tonnes per annum to around 2 mtpa. Mine production has virtually ceased in many countries, leaving four major producers. Over the same period, asbestos use has shifted from developed to developing countries – largely chrysotile (white) asbestos used in asbestos cement.”
Giving an overview of asbestos, Citi says, it “has insulating and fireproofing properties. It has been used in insulation, automotive parts (eg brake liners, gaskets), building products, asbestos cement and fire resistant textiles.” Pointing out that “asbestos is strongly associated with disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibers”, it adds, “In 2012, major asbestos mining countries were Russia, China, Brazil and Kazakhstan.” As for India, it just produces one per cent of world asbestos production.”
Giving the reason for the report, Citi says, “This report aims to identify listed companies that are currently involved in asbestos mining or production, or manufacture of products that contain asbestos – ie companies that are currently “introducing” asbestos into “the system”. We focused this initial study on sectors most likely to include asbestos products, where asbestos may represent a significant proportion of product value: construction materials, metals & mining, building products, and construction & engineering sectors.”
---
*A Gujarat-based social activist

Comments

Daniel Smith said…
We hear about asbestos testing and wonder why it is so important? You will even find some writers and bloggers try to convince you there are no dangers related to asbestos exposure Asbestos testing

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.