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

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.