India Says No to Asbestos
This afternoon, asbestos victims and ban asbestos campaigners held a New Delhi conference at the Press Club of India to call for an immediate asbestos ban in the face of growing consumption (see: OEHNI Media Release). A letter they released, signed by over 300 eminent experts from 36 countries, condemned aggressive marketing by asbestos industry stakeholders1 in India. In the text of this letter, which was sent to Indian Government Ministers,2 the international correspondents pointed out the deplorable behaviour of the ruthless asbestos lobby:
The International Chrysotile Association and the Asbestos Cement Products' Manufacturers Association of India (ACPMA) are disseminating deadly, deceptive misinformation about chrysotile asbestos, that will cause suffering and loss of life for years to come.3
The industry's discredited propaganda is spread by a network of hired scientists and spin doctors in order to create doubt where no doubt exists: Not a single reputable agency in the world supports the claim put forward by the International Chrysotile Association and the Asbestos Cement Products' Manufacturers Association of India that chrysotile can be used safely. The letter concludes with a heartfelt request that the Ministers put the health interests of the people of India ahead of the vested interests of the asbestos industry.
Presentations made at today's press conference by asbestos victims and at-risk workers from Maharashtra and Ahmedabad confirmed the harsh reality of hazardous exposures to asbestos and the traumas faced by those suffering from asbestos-related illness. The tee shirts they wore made their feelings about the asbestos industry clear; the slogans on the backs and fronts said: For a World Without Asbestos.
The Secretary of the Indian Association of Occupational Health reiterated his organization's support for a national ban on the use and mining of asbestos. His remarks were echoed by those of Mr H Mahadevan, Vice Chairman of the National Safety Council.
From left: Mr H Mahadevan Vice Chairman, National Safety Council, Mr R Sreedhar Managing Trustee of Environics Trust and Mr. Pralhad Malvadkar Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai
Campaigner Mohit Gupta, from the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI), the organizers of this event, deplored the fact that since 1960, India has used over 7 million tonnes of asbestos and that in 2013 usage is predicted to exceed 500,000 tonnes. He pledged OEHNI's determination to continue its efforts to end the national disgrace of asbestos use.
December 2, 2013
1 The latest manifestation of the asbestos sales drive mounted by the industry will take place in New Delhi later this week: see:
2 This letter was sent to the Minister of Health & Family Welfare, the Minister of Labor & Employment, and the Minister of Forests & Environment.
3 PDF version of the letter sent to Indian Ministers which was released to the public today (December 2, 2013) at the press conference.