Skip to main content

An Indian company seeking to buy 50,000 tonnes of asbestos every year? It's a clear intention to profit out of mass disaster

Jagdish Patel*
‘The Mirror’, a well-known daily newspaper of Zimbabwe reported that Government of Zimbabwe muscling its efforts to reopen the Shabani Mashaba Mines (SMM) a principle supplier of Asbestos. The state-run company was shut down amid financial scandals back in 2004 but is set to reopen at full capacity employing up to 5,000 workers. The efforts have been stepped up because an Indian company has shown a keen interest in importing 50,000 tonnes of SMM’s Asbestos.
It is important to note that, in recognition of its harmful effects asbestos mining is banned in India since three decades but industries exploit the loopholes and import it from elsewhere. Companies continue to import vast quantities of asbestos and produce various products directly increasing public health risks and, definitively, subject its workers to occupational diseases.
Asbestos, when inhaled, causes Asbestosis (an inflammatory scarring of lung tissues which leads to permanent and irreversible damage to the respiratory system, weakening the immune system and overall functioning of the body). Asbestos can also lead to lung cancer, cancer of mesothelioma and various other organ cancers. The risk associated with the use of asbestos is far greater than benefits, ipso facto global consensus on banning the use of asbestos except for India.
For example, the asbestos sheets used in roofing on Anganwadis and other public spaces exposes children and adults alike to the harmful effects of Asbestos. The Indian company in question needs to be investigated. The Government of India has the responsibility to protect its citizens through unilateral action to ban mining, import, production, sale and consumption of all materials based on asbestos with immediate effect.
The Rotterdam Convention is an international treaty to investigate, monitor and restrict trans-boundary transportation of toxic substances. The Indian delegation has stubbornly disagreed and has repeatedly blocked listing of chrysotile (white asbestos) at Rotterdam Convention Hazardous Substances list (Annex III). Even the subcontinent neighbours, Nepal and Sri Lanka, are well on their way to permanently ban production and consumption of asbestos. And we have a moral imperative to question the flagrant disregard with which our administration and governing politicians continue to ignore the constitutional and judicial rights of our own less fortunate brothers and sisters.
If an Indian company is planning to buy 50,000 tonnes of asbestos every year, then it is with clear intention to profit out of mass disaster. It may very well be 50,000 tonnes of cancer being imported into the country.
The Occupational and Environmental Health Network India (OEHNI) severely criticises the unknown Indian company for their malicious intentions and condemns the attitude to profit out of death. OEHNI appeals to Zimbabwean government to permanently shut down all asbestos mines in the country and protects its citizens from this harmful substance.
OEHNI has made a petition to his Honourable President of India to ban the use of asbestos in all form in all industries in India. In August this year, Kolkata High Court ordered not to use asbestos in repairing High Court building.
---
*National Coordinator, Occupational and Environmental Health Network India

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Coal blocks for tycoons: Rinchi village tribals may be declared forest land encroachers

By Gladson Dungdung*
On June 18, 2020, the Government of India initiated the process for auctioning 41 coal blocks for commercialisation. These coal blocks are located in different states within India and most of them fall under Fifth Schedule areas. The Indian government claims that their decision to auction these coal areas is a big step towards making the country Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant) in the energy sector.

Cruel legacy of Green Revolution? Covid-19 underscores 'risky, fragile' food system

By Moin Qazi*  The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the risks of an unhealthy diet and the extreme fragility of food systems. The economic reconstruction that will follow the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to provide better nutrition and health to all. The pandemic should spur us to redefine how we feed ourselves, and agricultural research can play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.