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Indian co all set to buy 50,000 tonnes of "cancerous" asbestos from Zimbabwe thanks to Modi govt "indifference"

By Our Representative
An anti-asbestos campaign organization has expressed the fear that an Indian company is all to import 50,000 tonnes of the hazardous commodity which allegedly causes cancer. Quoting ‘The Mirror’, a well-known daily newspaper of Zimbabwe, it says that this follows after the Government of Zimbabwe "muscling its efforts to reopen the Shabani Mashaba Mines (SMM)".
A principal supplier of asbestos, the state-run company was shut down amid financial scandals back in 2004, but is likely to "reopen at full capacity employing up to 5,000 workers", says the Occupational and Environmental Health Network India (OEHNI), underlining, this has happened "because the Indian company has shown keen interest in importing 50,000 tonnes of SMM’s asbestos annually."
OEHNI notes, this is happening even though, "in recognition of its harmful effects, asbestos mining is banned in India for the last three decades". However, it adds, " Industries exploit legal loopholes and import vast quantities of asbestos and produce various products, directly increasing public health risks and subject 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. According to studies, it 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 the benefits, ipso facto global consensus on banning the use of asbestos except for India", says OEHNI in its statement, but avoids naming the company.
"The asbestos sheets used in roofing on anganwadis and other public spaces expose children and adults alike to the harmful effects of asbestos", it says, insisting, "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."
Underlining that the problem lies at the policy level, OEHNI, quoting the Rotterdam Convention, an international treaty to investigate, monitor and restrict trans-boundary transportation of toxic substances, says that the Indian delegation has "stubbornly disagreed and has repeatedly blocked listing of chrysotile (white asbestos) in Rotterdam Convention Hazardous Substances list (Annex III)".
"Even the subcontinental neighbours, Nepal and Sri Lanka, are well on their way to permanently ban production and consumption of asbestos", it says, adding, yet, "Our administration and governing politicians continue to ignore the constitutional and judicial rights of our own less fortunate brothers and sisters."
Earlier, in a letter to the President of India, OEHNI's national coordinator, Jagdish Patel, reminded him how India helped block the inclusion of the chrysotile (white asbestos) in the Rotterdam Convention Hazardous Substances list (Annex III), despite the fact that some 60 countries "including Japan, Europe, Australia, and also International Labour Organization and World Health Organization, firmly believe that ‘safe and controlled use’ of asbestos is not possible".
"The convention had put an eye opening figure that more than 100,000 people die each year from various asbestos related diseases including a rare cancer of mesothelioma", Patel said, adding, this runs against the Union Environment Ministry’s Vision Statement that says, “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out”. 

Comments

David Trigg said…
Please India, ban the use of asbestos now and stop risking the lives of your own people for the sake of profit. Manufacture and use alternatives to asbestos, that is profitable as well, and safe.
Follow the recent example of Canada and The Ukraine and ban ALL asbestos now.

David Trigg.
Derby.
England.

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