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Letter to Chemicals Ministry on questionable objection regarding ban on 27 pesticides

Written By mediavigil on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 | 6:10 PM



To

Shri Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi
Secretary (C&PC)
Dept. of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers
341-(C), A-wing
3rd floor, Shastri Bhawan
New Delhi-110001
Email: sec.cpc@nic.in

Date: June 17, 2020

Sub: Letter written by Secretary, C&PC to Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare w.r.t. Draft Gazette  Notification  on  banning  27 pesticides  - Gazette notification  S.O.
1512(E)., dated May 14, 2020

Shri. Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi Jee,

With reference to the above-mentioned subject, I have learnt about the objections raised by you. In the interest transparency, I wish to request you to share your letter/contents of the letter in which you have found the Draft Gazette Notification of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare banning 27 hazardous pesticides questionable.

I submit that pesticides/insecticides are regulated under Insecticides Act, 1968. According to this law the mandate with regard to regulation and prohibition has been given to Ministry of  Agriculture. It  is empowered to  take  such  decisions.  It is apparent that your letter is in violation of the Insecticides Act.

I submit that Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has taken steps in compliance with the law. It has appointed a Committee to review pesticides. The review the Committee’s report on the  pesticides and the issuance of Draft Notification seeking   comments, within a time period is in pursuance of ministry's mandate.
Its intiative to undertake Public Consultation on a matter of environmental health and public health of present and future generations is unambigously unquestionable and incontrovertible.

I submit that Ministry of Chemicals and Fertlisers too must learn from the exemplary conduct of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and ought to follow similar consultative  process,  with  regard  to  pesticides  and  relevant policies before   permitting establishment   of   industries  that produce hazardous  products.

I submit that you have failed to appreciate the concerns of Ministry  of  Agriculture and Farmers Welfare that has factored in the hazardous impact of usage of toxic chemicals and the risks they pose to environmental health and human health.

I submit that all the  27 pesticides in question are highly  hazardous  pesticides and are already banned in several other countries. It paves the way for review of all other pesticides registered in India with the same criteria used for assessing the 27 chemicals for issuance of stringent regulatory measures and prohibitions.

I submit that the draft order for banning 27 pesticides on May 14 2020 and seeking comments and suggestions from those who are likely to be affected by the decision to undo risk to humans, animals and environment.

I submit that given the fact that these 27 listed pesticides are highly hazardous with potential to cause severe health problems such as hormonal changes, carcinogenic, neurotoxic, reproductive and developmental health effects as well as environmental impacts such as toxic to bees, the decision is praiseworthy. It is noteworthy that better alternatives are available for all of them which are proposed to be banned including insecticides, fungicides and weedicides: 2,4-D, acephate, atrazine, benfuracarb, butachlor, captan, carbendazin, carbofuran, chlorpyriphos, deltamethrin, dicofol, dimethoate, dinocap, diuron, malathion, mancozeb, methimyl, monocrotophos, oxyfluorfen, pendimethalin, quninalphos, sulfosulfuron, thiodicarb, thiophante methyl, thiram, zineb and ziram.

I submit that you have failed to appreciate that some of these hazardous chemicals are already addressed by state-level regulations and bans. It is noteworthy that in 2018, Punjab had sought to review licenses, to not to issue fresh licenses for 2,4-D, benfuracarb, dicofl, methomyl and monocrotophos, which are among the 27 listed pesticides. Maharashtra has prohibited monocrotophos and acephate in 2017 because of the high-incidence of pesticides-poisoning among cotton farming community. Kerala has banned monocrotophos, carbofuran, atrazine and a few others.

You may recollect that Monocrotophos, the insecticide was responsible for the Mid Day Meal tragedy on July 16, 2013 at the Dharma Sati Primary School Mashrak, Chapra in Saran district, Bihar.

In a significant and related development, on August, 29, 2016, Shri Vijay Anand Tiwari, Additional District Judge II of Saran (Chhapra) Court, Bihar in a 49 page long verdict sentenced Mina Devi, Gandaman primary school principal to 10 and 7 years imprisonment in connection with the 2013 midday meal tragedy, in which 23 children had died after eating soyabean vegetable. The court makes mention of Monocrotophos, the pesticide in question and underlines that the food that caused the death of 23 students was contaminated with this pesticide.
The verdict is available at
http://services.ecourts.gov.in/ecourtindia/cases/display_pdf.php?filename=/orders/201000046462014_1.pdf&caseno=SESSION%20CASE/4646/2014&cCode=2&appFlag=

Although Gandaman primary school principal has been sentenced to 10 years jail term under IPC sections of 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and seven years under section 308 (criminal negligence) and fined her with Rs 2.5 lakh under Section 304 and Rs 1.25 under Section 308, the fact remains the manufacturers, sellers and regulators of pesticide have remained out of the scanner so far. The poisonous pesticide in question was kept at home for spraying on sugar cane crops. The institutional responsibility for availability of such a toxic substance lies with the regulator. In such cases manufacturers and sellers should also be held accountable. 

It is high time our country stopped transboundary movement of hazardous chemicals by creating an inventory of hazardous chemicals besides conducting an environmental and occupational health audit along with the ministry of health to ascertain the body burden through investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood. In one such study in the US, of the 287 chemicals detected in umbilical cord blood, 180 were known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. Absence of such studies in India do not mean that a similar situation does not exist in India. Until and unless one diagnoses the current unacknowledged public health crisis, how will the regulatory bodies predict, prevent and provide remedy.

I submit that our ecological space is a living entity but it is faced with the cannibalistic propensities of illegitimately totalitarian scientism which is married with political consensus. Its linear, piecemeal and closed technological thinking fails to acknowledge that no unlimited development is possible in the nature of things.

I earnestly request you to resist the influence of lobbying by industry associations which give priority to profit over any human and environmental cost.

In view of the above facts and the ongoing food chain poisoning, I urge you to review and revise your position to protect public health of the present and future generations.

They cause severe health effects such as hormonal changes, neurotoxic effects, reproductive and  developmental health effects,  carcinogenic effects, as well as  environmental impacts such as toxic to bees.

In view of the above, I submit that you have been misled about the apparent suddenness of the proposed ban. The process has been underway for a long time. This process entails review of 282 pesticides which are registered for use. The process has created a compelling logic to ban the 27 pesticides. It also creates a compelling logic to withdraw your letter which has been drafted in hurry as a consequence of wrong advice. Acknowledgement of genuine error in supreme public interest has always been appreciated.

warm regards
Gopal Krishna
E-mail: krishnaruhani@gmail.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.org

Villagers in Jamsher, Jalandhar Cantt Reject Waste Incineration based toxic plant

Written By mediavigil on Saturday, June 06, 2020 | 2:05 AM

Current MLA Pargat Singh & ex- MLA 
Jagbir Singh Brar oppose Dioxins and Mercury Emitting Factory in Jamsher Village

Expressing his support for the agitation of villagers of Jamsher and adjoining villages and responding to concerns expressed by environmentalists, Jalandhar Cantt MLA and former Captain of Indian Hockey Team Pargat Singh says, "The solid waste management plant which was proposed in my constituency was logically, legally, technically and environmentally not right and people of my area are against it".

Vindicating the conerns regarding such toxic plants, un a significant related development, Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and National Capital and home to Australian Parliament and Federal Government has recently banned waste incineration.The ACT Greens party, led by Shane Rattenbury, was successful in having the state waste policy specifically exclude waste incineration.
In effect this is the first waste incineration ban in Australia and at a time when all other states are under extreme pressure to fast track these projects and embed waste incineration into their policies and scandalously, their circular economy policies. This ban now sets a new precedent for Australia and will likely have a positive influence in the Asia Pacific region.

Reference:https://reneweconomy.com.au/act-set-to-ban-waste-incineration-for-energy-citing-community-concerns-33706/
and https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6773715/burning-waste-off-the-cards-under-new-act-govt-energy-plan/?fbclid=IwAR0YEZYjRuiASSqNhUZgE0yga0wEgoUeGWe_P4UX7YfHily_SMFuerCLaLU

It is one small step for Australia...and one giant leap forward for zero waste, a circular economy and our toxics free future! National Toxics Network, ACT Greens, ACT state parliament and the awesome local groups who have made this possible, said Jane Bremmer of Zero Waste Australia & Campaign Coordinator and of National Toxics Network Australia
 
In Punjab, the agitation against toxic waste plant began in September, 2011 at a public hearing for obtaining environmental clearance for setting up of a Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) processing facility in Jamsher village by Municipal Corporation Jalandhar, it emerged that there was unanimous opposition to the project which involved waste burning for generation of electricity. The villagers feared threat to human health and environment from the toxic waste to electricity plant. The villagers from all the adjoining villages who are likely to be adversely affected expressed their bitter opposition to the proposed poisonous power plant.

The Department of Local Government, Government of Punjab has initiated to implement an “integrated MSW management facility for Jalandhar cluster comprising of Jalandhar city and 25 other Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).” This means that wastes from ULBs like Jalandhar, Adampur, Alawalpur, Banga, Begowal, Bhogpur, Bhulath, Dasuya, Dhilwan, Garshankar, Goraya, Hariana, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Kartarpur, Lohian Khas, Mahalpur, Nakodar, Nawan Shehar, Nurmahal, Phagwara, Shahkot, Sham Chaurasi, Sri Hargobindpur, Sultanpur and Umar Tanda will be transferred to the plant site in Jamsher village. The villagers made it clear that come what may they will not allow the cancer causing plant in their region.

It was noted that in the Draft Environment Impact Assessment report prepared by SENES Consultants India Pvt Ltd on behalf of Municipal Corporation Jalandhar, Punjab and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS)’s Infrastructure Development Corporation that the ‘Municipal Solid Waste Processing Facility’, will use incineration of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) technology. This is a biomass burning technology.

The villagers got agitated after officials failed to answer their public health related questions. 

As per the Draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report, “The facility will comprise of a MSW processing facility at Jamsher village in Jalandhar district for processing the MSW from Jalandhar cluster and an engineered Sanitary Land Fill (SLF) site at Hoshiarpur town in Hoshiarpur district for disposal of processing rejects and other inert wastes generated by the processing facility.” Although it is quite clear that it is an EIA for electricity generation, the public hearing did not reveal it explicitly.

At the public hearing Punjab Pollution Control Board conceded that it does not have the capacity to even test persistent organic pollutants like dioxins. The project developer could not explain how they will segregate heavy metals like lead and mercury from the mixed waste which is to be burnt as per the EIA report.

Jagbir Singh Brar, ex-MLA, Jalandhar cantt, Punjab observed that “the public hearing for “Municipal solid waste processing facility” is quite strange. This is actually a waste burning project. It is a power project based on waste. The question is why has Punjab Pollution Control Board and the project developer hidden this fact from the public. I have learnt from newspapers and research reports that such plants have failed in India, why a failed project is being proposed here. A similar plant has failed in Timarpur in Delhi and in Andhra Pradesh. Delhi High Court had scolded the Govt. for such experimental technology in the past.”

He added, “Project Developer and Punjab Pollution Control Board are trying to confuse the public by not revealing that waste burning is highly polluting. It has not told the public about the health effects and diseases caused by waste burning plants. No health and environmental loving person can allow such polluting and disease causing plant in there place of residence. I am deeply concerned about the health of the villagers from the locality and its impact on the dairy. I on my own behalf and on behalf of the people of Jalandhar urge you to ensure that this Dioxins emitting technology of waste burning in the residential area is not allowed. This plant should not get environmental clearance in view of its adverse impact on public health and environment.” 

Dr. Gopal Krishna of ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) who was also present at the public hearing noted that while the project has two components comprising of “municipal solid waste processing facility” and an engineered Sanitary Land Fill, this EIA report only dealt with the former. The project has deliberately been broken into two parts to obviate combined resistance from the villagers of Jamsher and Hoshiarpur. This EIA report is misleading both the residents of Jamsher, Hoshiarpur the Jalandhar. The report states that the total area available for development of the “MSW facility is approximately 25 acres”. Why does it exclude Hoshiarpur’s 30 acre? As per the TOR given in the Draft EIA report for the MSW facility, some 20 points out of the 35 points mentioned refer to landfill but this document is silent about it.

It is claimed in the Draft EIA report that the MSW processing plant to consist of burning of RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) plant, biomethanation plant, power plant (optional) and composting facility. The plant will be designed to process 700 Tonnes Per Day (TPD) of Municipal Solid Waste and is expected to generate around 260 TPD of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) in the form of fluff. The fluff is expected to have a Gross Calorific Value (GCV) of 2,500 Kcal/kg to 27,000 Kcal/kg. The plant will also be designed to process 50 TPD of green waste for producing biogas in a biomethanation plant and manure in a composting facility. The biogas generated is expected to be about 2,750 to 3,000 Nm3/day and manure quantity is expected to be about 6-7 TPD. The RDF plant and the biomethanation plant are expected to operate for 330 days in a year. The total cost of the integrated MSW processing facility is estimated to INR 99.21 crores. The project will be made operational in a span of 14 months, it is claimed.

It is confessed in the EIA report that waste collected from various sources in the Jalandhar cluster will have differing calorific values. It is not revealed how Indian waste, which has calorific value of 800-1000 kcal will gain the Gross Calorific Value) of 2,600+ kcal / kg after drying and separation of non-combustible and recyclable fraction and after conversion to RDF.

Dr. Krishna observed that If the project is to be implemented by companies like Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), a company of M/s Jindal Saw Group Limited owned by Prithviraj Jindal, which has no previous experience in waste management, it will distort waste management beyond repair.

Given the fact that the project proponent is using RDF technology it is relevant to note that all such experiments based on this technology to treat waste has failed in the country. A similar plant proposal compelled the union Environment Minister to write to Delhi chief minister that there has been violation in basic condition stipulated in environment condition. It violates the recommendation of the environment Ministry.

In a White paper on Pollution, it has been underlined that Indian waste is suitable only for Biological Treatment Methods. It violates the recommendation of Supreme Courts committee on Waste to Energy that insisted on segregation of waste its source. Once waste is segregated, compostable waste can be composted and recycled waste can be recycled. In such a scenario, what is the need to burn the waste.

The power generated will be highly expensive. Experts suggest that it is 4-5 times costlier than the conventional electricity. The EIA report does not reveal how the project developer will deal with toxic ash which will contain heavy metals like mercury. If such ash is dumped in place like Hoshiarpur, it will adversely affects the health of the people of Hoshiarpur. In 1990’s, a similar waste Energy Plant was shut down in Delhi because the garbage had about 60% organic waste and large amount of silt. The waste of Jalandhar will not be any different.

Indian waste has some 60 % organic waste and some 25 % sand, dust and ash. Incineration of such waste is inadvisable. It promotes waste generation, what is required is waste prevention and reduction and zero waste system that guarantees returned on investments and healthy communities. There is threat to ground water from ash disposal. Incineration also creates huge amount of Air pollution. It also releases Carbon monoxide, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, hydrocarbons and particulates in the air. Waste incineration emits Green House Gases as well. This technology has high public health cost. It causes cancers, birth defects in villagers living in the vicinity of incineration.

It is clear to the villagers of Jamsher and adjoining villages of Jalandhar Cantt that incineration is the most costly waste management option from the point of view of public health environment and natural resources. Therefore, the villagers contend that the power plant based on waste should not get approval. It is noteworthy that Union Ministry of New & Renewable Energy is damaging waste management in cities like Jalandhar by providing subsidy to such polluting projects. States must not allow themselves to be misled by this Union Ministry and should desist from approving such hazardous projects given the fact that health is a state subject under the Constitution. 

Punjab government should be wary of being driven by New Delhi based officials and vested interests who have unleashed misinformation campaign to undermine public health concerns regarding such environmentally damaging myopic projects


Picture 1- Pargat Singh, Picture 2-Protesting villagers, Picture 3-Proposed project site, Jamsher Village, Jalandhar Cantt

Complaint to CDSCO regarding ongoing exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers contaminated Talcum Powder of Johnson & Johnson

Written By mediavigil on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 | 2:37 AM


To

Drugs Controller General of India
Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO),
Directorate General of Health Services
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,

Government of India
FDA Bhavan, ITO, Kotla Road,
New Delhi -110002

Date: May 27, 2020

Subject- Complaint regarding ongoing exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers contaminated Talcum Powder of Johnson & Johnson

Sir,      

This is to draw your immediate attention of CDSCO towards the announcement dated May 19, 2020 by Johnson & Johnson, a multinational company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA stating that it will discontinue sale of its Talcum Powder products in North America. This announcement is aimed at safeguarding the health of residents and citizens of North America but not the residents and citizens of India. Such doublespeak and double standard in matters of public health in general and children’s health in particular merits urgent intervention of the CDSCO. (Reference: Statement of Johnson & Johnson, May 19, 2020, https://www.jnj.com/our-company/johnson-johnson-consumer-health-announces-discontinuation-of-talc-based-johnsons-baby-powder-in-u-s-and-canada)

We wish to point out that “the Company will wind down the commercialization of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada in the coming months. Existing inventory will continue to be sold through retailers until it runs out.” The news report titled Johnson & Johnson to End Talc-Based Baby Powder Sales in North America published in The New York Times merits attention as well. (Reference: Tiffany Hsu and Roni Caryn Rabin, May 19, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/business/johnson-baby-powder-sales-stopped.html).

We submit that a study titled "Asbestos in commercial Indian talc" published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine states that “this product study of various talcum powders marketed to combat prickly heat, purchased from Indian retailers both overthecounter and online, demonstrates the ease of general population access to such products and the potential for significant exposure to asbestos. The analytical results of this study confirm that asbestos exposure of the Indian and potentially greater Southeast Asian populations is not limited to traditional occupational settings.” The findings of this study “imply that the asbestosrelated medical and public health implications to consider will need to extend to persons of both genders and all ages among this population group. This study's confirmation of an underappreciated source of asbestos exposure, through personal care products, also highlights the risk that anyone within breathing range of these aerosolizeable, contaminated, talcum products incurs.” The authors of the study observe, “"Until asbestos is also viewed as a hazard in India and banned, there will still be considerable risk to health." There is a need to identify the source of their talc supply as well. (Reference: : Fitzgerald S, Harty E, Joshi TK, Frank AL. Asbestos in commercial indian talc. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. 2019; 18. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.22969 )

We submit that Word Health Organisation (WHO)’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) has recognized presence of asbestos in talcum powder. IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans on Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide, and Talc (2010) refers to the presence of asbestos in talcum powder. It also refers to "Use of talc for feminine hygiene". The use of body powder for feminine hygiene can be estimated from the prevalence reported for controls in case–control studies that investigated the association between the use of cosmetic talc for feminine hygiene and the risk for ovarian cancer. It refers to exposure to respirable dust during the use of talcum powders on the face, body and babies. Talc is used as a surface lubricant on the majority of condoms manufactured; contact with condoms may also represent a direct means of exposure of the female genital tract to talc. Exposure to talc can also occur during surgical procedures when using powdered gloves. Talc particles were observed in the navels of small children, in the testes, on the vocal cords, in the urinary bladder tract and after removal of varicous veins. Besides this the Food Chemical Codex (2003) provides specifications for food-grade talc, including the statement that “talc derived from deposits that are known to contain associated asbestos is not food grade.” Under the voluntary guidelines initiated in 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association stated that all cosmetic talc should contain at least 90% platy talc (hydrated magnesium silicate) that is free from detectable amounts of fibrous, asbestos minerals. Meanwhile, some 67 countries have banned all kinds of asbestos. World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendations have established the infectious nature of Covid-19, the same WHO has underlined that “All types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).” (Reference: https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/asbestos/en/ and https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/asbestos-elimination-of-asbestos-related-diseases)

Fitzgerald S et al observe, “With products of this nature being readily available and appealing to both genders, it is necessary to consider what the potential health risks and burdens of disease are for millions of exposed women of childbearing age and the children for whom they provide care. IARC has confirmed the causal association of asbestos with ovarian cancer and other cancers”.

We submit that the CDSCO must undertake the enviro-occupational health audit of the workers who handle asbestos laden talcum powder in the manufacturing facilities of talcum powder products in general besides the health audit of the communities who are in the vicinity of such factories and recommend adequate compensation for those who are exposed to the carcinogenic mineral fibers and are suffering from asbestos related diseases. This will be also relevant for assessing the harm which the unsuspecting consumers continue to face. These consumers include all judges, legislators, officials, their children and grandchildren and the residents of India.

Earlier, an investigative report titled “Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder” was published on December, 14, 2018 which too is relevant for protecting the human rights of Indians. The investigation was conducted by Reuters, a 167 year old international news agency headquartered in London. This investigative report is consistent with the findings of a study by India’s Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (IITR), Lucknow, a constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India on “Exposure risk to contaminants in pharmaceutical and cosmetic powders” has found that “There are different types of cosmetic powders such as body powder, baby powder, face powder, eye shadow and powdered blush as well as pharmaceutical powders available in the market. Both the sexes of all age groups are using these powders. These are talc - based. Talc is a mineral product and often contaminated with asbestos fibres.”

The aim of the IITR study “was to investigate the safety of such powders being sold in the market, initially by analyzing the asbestos content. Five branded samples of talcum powder were analysed and all were found contaminated with asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibre contamination in these powders ranged from 10.3 – 15.4%. Fibre length study on two samples revealed that asbestos fibres were 22.8 – 34.7%, 48.2 – 55.1% and 17.1 – 22.1% in the range of <10 10="" 20="" and="" m=""> 20µm, respectively. The study indicates risk of human exposure to asbestos through the use of naturally contaminated talcum powder. It is noteworthy that asbestos takes many years to cause asbestosis and carcinogenic malignancies which are irreversible. It also necessitates a regular monitoring and surveillance on all the cosmetic and pharmaceutical powders being marketed for asbestos contamination.” This has been published in the Annual Report Annual Report 2005-2006 of IITR. IITR is accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for chemical and biological testing and is recognized for GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) toxicity testing. (Reference: http://www.itrcindia.org/ITRC_Annual_Report_2005-06.pdf )

The investigation by Reuters corroborates the findings of IITR. This recent investigation was undertaken in the wake of three verdicts in New Jersey, California and St. Louis awarding compensation to plaintiffs who blamed asbestos-tainted Johnson & Johnson talc products for their mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs. The connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma was discovered in the 1970s. The third verdict was a watershed in in St. Louis: The 22 plaintiffs were the first to succeed with a claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc, a longtime brand the company sold in 2012 that caused ovarian cancer, which is much more common than mesothelioma. The jury awarded them $4.69 billion in damages. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used Johnson and Johnson talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant. The inclusion of ovarian cancer besides mesothelioma has broadened the potential liability of Johnson & Johnson, a 132 year old multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

Earlier, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article titled “Jury awards $4.7bn damages against Johnson & Johnson in talcum cancer case” published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ). As per BMJ’s article, “More than 9000 former US talcum customers have lodged suits against the company. Most claim damages for ovarian cancer, but some allege that using the product led them to develop mesothelioma. The award is by far the biggest yet against Johnson and Johnson in litigation relating to talcum powder and the first case in which plaintiffs alleged that asbestos in talcum powder caused their disease. The verdict was handed down in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. ((Reference: BMJ 2018; 362 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3135)

We reiterate that this investigative report is of deep relevance for the public health of present and future generation of Indians given the fact that Johnson & Johnson company has admittedly been in India for last 70 years. The company has brought many products in consumer healthcare, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. In 1947, Johnson & Johnson expanded into India, marketing Johnson’s Baby Powder. In September 1957, Johnson & Johnson incorporated as a legal entity in India. The production in its first manufacturing facility began in 1959 at the Johnson & Johnson India plant in Mulund, Mumbai, for Johnson’s Baby Powder and other specialized products. In 1968, the company introduces the Stayfree brand to India. A situation emerged wherein Johnson & Johnson reached almost every household in India.  

The Reuters investigative report refers to the findings of Dr. Irving J. Selikoff who had conclusively established a link between the inhalation of asbestos particles and lung-related ailments in the 1960s itself that paved the way for ban on asbestos of all kinds in some 60 countries. Dr. Selikoff was the director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Division of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. It is significant that Ms Lisa Girion of Reuters has shared the official documents on the basis of which she has made these startling claims in her investigative report.  

We wish to reiterate that in a Terms of Reference dated October 25, 2010 issued by Union Environment & Forests Ministry for a proposed Asbestos cement sheet and accessories manufacturing unit of 1,80,000 Tonnes Per Annum capacity at Narsimharaopalem Village, Veerulupadu Tehsil, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh by M/s Sahyadri Industries Limited made reference to "talc and chrysotile”.

Prior to the Reuters report, a 2014 paper published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health titled "Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women" by Ronald E Gordon et al concluded "we found that a specific brand of talcum powder contained identifiable asbestos fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application. We also found that asbestos fibers consistent with those found in the same cosmetic talc product were present in the lungs and lymph node tissues of a woman who used this brand of talc powder and developed and died from mesothelioma. This study was published in October 2014. (Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164883/)

We submit that the investigation by Reuters reveals that “Johnson & Johnson developed a strategy in the 1970s to deal with a growing volume of research showing that talc miners had elevated rates of lung disease and cancer: Promote the positive, challenge the negative. That approach was summed up by a J&J applied research director in a “strictly confidential” March 3, 1975, memo to managers of the baby products division, which used the talc in J&J’s signature Baby Powder. Its approach reads: “Our current posture with respect to the sponsorship of talc safety studies has been to initiate studies only as dictated by confrontation,” the memo said. “This philosophy, so far, has allowed us to neutralize or hold in check data already generated by investigators who question the safety of talc.” It reveals that scientific ghostwriters have been hired for long to hide evidence of “cancer concern associated with exposure to talc.” Based on an Italian study, one such ghost authored article that appeared in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in 1976 found no mesothelioma, the signature cancer of asbestos exposure. The Italian study in question has been updated three times – in 1979, 2003 and 2017 – “confirming the lack of association between exposure to asbestos-free talc, lung cancer and mesothelioma.” The investigative underlines that Johnson & Johnson got a lot of mileage out of the study. It was cited in a review article titled “The Biology of Talc,” published Nov. 1, 1976, in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine.

In addition to dozens of published studies, the review cited unpublished research, including one experiment that used a doll as a proxy for infants and that supported the company’s position on the safety of talc. It didn’t disclose that Johnson & Johnson had commissioned the unpublished research. The author of the review article concluded that the “concern that has been expressed about the possible health hazard from consumer exposure to cosmetic talc is unwarranted … There is no evidence that its normal use poses a hazard to health.” The author was Hildick-Smith, the Johnson & Johnson physician executive who had overseen the Italian study and played a key role in the company’s talc safety research. The article did not disclose his Johnson & Johnson connection, identifying him only as a Rutgers University Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

In a related event, I was a panelist at a Round Table Conference on Issues Related to Asbestos Use in India held at India International Centre, New Delhi on December 21, 2009, wherein Dr Iqbal Ahmad, a scientist from IITR, Lucknow said that there are many different sources of asbestos exposures which need to be looked at. He identified talc (powder) as a major source which has asbestos contamination and exposes a large section of population, especially children and women. Talc is used in several industries as raw material. He said that we do have numbers of talc based cosmetic powders in India. China is the largest producer of talc. Some 47 companies which used to procure Chinese talc powder had to withdraw their product from market in South Korea due to high asbestos contamination.

We submit that CDSCO’s intervention will be germane in the light of the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) Vs Union of India (1995 AIR 922, 1995 SCC (3) 42) that recognized right to health as part of right to life and had directed central and state governments to revise their law related asbestos in keeping with fresh resolutions of International Labour Organisation (ILO). ILO’s asbestos related resolution of June 2006 is relevant in this regard (Reference: https://www.ilo.org/safework/info/standards-and-instruments/WCMS_108556/lang--en/index.htm  . The ILO resolution was followed by a joint publication of WHO and ILO titled "Outline for the Development of National Programmes for Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases" published in December 2007. It creates a logical compulsion for urgent remedial action. (Reference: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/resources-library/publications/WCMS_108555/lang--en/index.htm)

In view of the above, we submit that instead of waiting for the coo withdraw its asbestos-laden talcum powder products-both baby powder and adult powder, the CDSCO must prevent preventable diseases and deaths by banning these products with immediate effect.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Occupational Health India (OHI)
E-mail:krishnaruhani@gmail.com 
Web:www.toxicswatch.org







Doublespeak and Double Standards of Johnson & Johnson, cause of ongoing exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers contaminated Talcum Powder



To

Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
Manav Adhikar Bhawan
Block-C, GPO Complex, INA,
New Delhi – 110023

Date: May 26, 2020

Subject- Doublespeak and Double Standards of Johnson & Johnson cause of ongoing exposure of Indians to hazardous asbestos mineral fibers contaminated Talcum Powder

Sir,      

This is to draw your immediate attention towards the announcement dated May 19, 2020 by Johnson & Johnson, a multinational company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA stating that it will discontinue sale of its Talcum Powder products in North America. This announcement is aimed at safeguarding the health and human rights of residents and citizens of North America but not the residents and citizens of India. Such doublespeak and double standard in matters of public health in general and children’s health in particular merits urgent intervention of the Commission. (Reference: Statement of Johnson & Johnson, May 19, 2020, https://www.jnj.com/our-company/johnson-johnson-consumer-health-announces-discontinuation-of-talc-based-johnsons-baby-powder-in-u-s-and-canada)

We wish to point out that “the Company will wind down the commercialization of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada in the coming months. Existing inventory will continue to be sold through retailers until it runs out.” The news report titled Johnson & Johnson to End Talc-Based Baby Powder Sales in North America published in The New York Times merits attention as well. (Reference: Tiffany Hsu and Roni Caryn Rabin, May 19, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/19/business/johnson-baby-powder-sales-stopped.html).

We submit that Word Health Organisation (WHO)’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) has recognized presence of asbestos in talcum powder. IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans on Carbon Black, Titanium Dioxide, and Talc (2010) refers to the presence of asbestos in talcum powder. It also refers to "Use of talc for feminine hygiene". The use of body powder for feminine hygiene can be estimated from the prevalence reported for controls in case–control studies that investigated the association between the use of cosmetic talc for feminine hygiene and the risk for ovarian cancer. It refers to exposure to respirable dust during the use of talcum powders on the face, body and babies. Talc is used as a surface lubricant on the majority of condoms manufactured; contact with condoms may also represent a direct means of exposure of the female genital tract to talc. Exposure to talc can also occur during surgical procedures when using powdered gloves. Talc particles were observed in the navels of small children, in the testes, on the vocal cords, in the urinary bladder tract and after removal of varicous veins. Besides this the Food Chemical Codex (2003) provides specifications for food-grade talc, including the statement that “talc derived from deposits that are known to contain associated asbestos is not food grade.” Under the voluntary guidelines initiated in 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association stated that all cosmetic talc should contain at least 90% platy talc (hydrated magnesium silicate) that is free from detectable amounts of fibrous, asbestos minerals. Meanwhile, some 67 countries have banned all kinds of asbestos. World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendations have established the infectious nature of Covid-19, the same WHO has underlined that “All types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs).” (Reference: https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/asbestos/en/ and https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/asbestos-elimination-of-asbestos-related-diseases)

We submit that the Commission. must recommend the enviro-occupational health audit of the workers who handle asbestos laden talcum powder in the manufacturing facilities of talcum powder products in general besides the health audit of the communities who are in the vicinity of such factories and recommend adequate compensation for those who are exposed to the carcinogenic mineral fibers and are suffering from asbestos related diseases. This will be also relevant for assessing the harm which the unsuspecting consumers continue to face. These consumers include all judges, legislators, officials, their children and grandchildren and the residents of India.

Earlier, an investigative report titled “Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder” was published on December, 14, 2018 which too is relevant for protecting the human rights of Indians. The investigation was conducted by Reuters, a 167 year old international news agency headquartered in London. This investigative report is consistent with the findings of a study by India’s Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (IITR), Lucknow, a constituent laboratory of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India on “Exposure risk to contaminants in pharmaceutical and cosmetic powders” has found that “There are different types of cosmetic powders such as body powder, baby powder, face powder, eye shadow and powdered blush as well as pharmaceutical powders available in the market. Both the sexes of all age groups are using these powders. These are talc - based. Talc is a mineral product and often contaminated with asbestos fibres.”

The aim of the IITR study “was to investigate the safety of such powders being sold in the market, initially by analyzing the asbestos content. Five branded samples of talcum powder were analysed and all were found contaminated with asbestos fibres. Asbestos fibre contamination in these powders ranged from 10.3 – 15.4%. Fibre length study on two samples revealed that asbestos fibres were 22.8 – 34.7%, 48.2 – 55.1% and 17.1 – 22.1% in the range of <10 10="" 20="" and="" m=""> 20µm, respectively. The study indicates risk of human exposure to asbestos through the use of naturally contaminated talcum powder. It is noteworthy that asbestos takes many years to cause asbestosis and carcinogenic malignancies which are irreversible. It also necessitates a regular monitoring and surveillance on all the cosmetic and pharmaceutical powders being marketed for asbestos contamination.” This has been published in the Annual Report Annual Report 2005-2006 of IITR. IITR is accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for chemical and biological testing and is recognized for GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) toxicity testing. (Reference: http://www.itrcindia.org/ITRC_Annual_Report_2005-06.pdf )

The investigation by Reuters corroborates the findings of IITR. This recent investigation was undertaken in the wake of three verdicts in New Jersey, California and St. Louis awarding compensation to plaintiffs who blamed asbestos-tainted Johnson & Johnson talc products for their mesothelioma, a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs. The connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma was discovered in the 1970s. The third verdict was a watershed in in St. Louis: The 22 plaintiffs were the first to succeed with a claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc, a longtime brand the company sold in 2012 that caused ovarian cancer, which is much more common than mesothelioma. The jury awarded them $4.69 billion in damages. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women with ovarian cancer who say they regularly used Johnson and Johnson talc products as a perineal antiperspirant and deodorant. The inclusion of ovarian cancer besides mesothelioma has broadened the potential liability of Johnson & Johnson, a 132 year old multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturing company headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

Earlier, British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an article titled “Jury awards $4.7bn damages against Johnson & Johnson in talcum cancer case” published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ). As per BMJ’s article, “More than 9000 former US talcum customers have lodged suits against the company. Most claim damages for ovarian cancer, but some allege that using the product led them to develop mesothelioma. The award is by far the biggest yet against Johnson and Johnson in litigation relating to talcum powder and the first case in which plaintiffs alleged that asbestos in talcum powder caused their disease. The verdict was handed down in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. ((Reference: BMJ 2018; 362 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3135)

We reiterate that this investigative report is of deep relevance for the public health of present and future generation of Indians given the fact that Johnson & Johnson company has admittedly been in India for last 70 years. The company has brought many products in consumer healthcare, medical devices and pharmaceuticals. In 1947, Johnson & Johnson expanded into India, marketing Johnson’s Baby Powder. In September 1957, Johnson & Johnson incorporated as a legal entity in India. The production in its first manufacturing facility began in 1959 at the Johnson & Johnson India plant in Mulund, Mumbai, for Johnson’s Baby Powder and other specialized products. In 1968, the company introduces the Stayfree brand to India. A situation emerged wherein Johnson & Johnson reached almost every household in India.  

The Reuters investigative report refers to the findings of Dr. Irving J. Selikoff who had conclusively established a link between the inhalation of asbestos particles and lung-related ailments in the 1960s itself that paved the way for ban on asbestos of all kinds in some 60 countries. Dr. Selikoff was the director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Division of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. It is significant that Ms Lisa Girion of Reuters has shared the official documents on the basis of which she has made these startling claims in her investigative report.  

We wish to reiterate that in a Terms of Reference dated October 25, 2010 issued by Union Environment & Forests Ministry for a proposed Asbestos cement sheet and accessories manufacturing unit of 1,80,000 Tonnes Per Annum capacity at Narsimharaopalem Village, Veerulupadu Tehsil, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh by M/s Sahyadri Industries Limited made reference to "talc and chrysotile”.

Prior to the Reuters report, a 2014 paper published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health titled "Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women" by Ronald E Gordon et al concluded "we found that a specific brand of talcum powder contained identifiable asbestos fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application. We also found that asbestos fibers consistent with those found in the same cosmetic talc product were present in the lungs and lymph node tissues of a woman who used this brand of talc powder and developed and died from mesothelioma. This study was published in October 2014. (Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164883/)

We submit that the investigation by Reuters reveals that “Johnson & Johnson developed a strategy in the 1970s to deal with a growing volume of research showing that talc miners had elevated rates of lung disease and cancer: Promote the positive, challenge the negative. That approach was summed up by a J&J applied research director in a “strictly confidential” March 3, 1975, memo to managers of the baby products division, which used the talc in J&J’s signature Baby Powder. Its approach reads: “Our current posture with respect to the sponsorship of talc safety studies has been to initiate studies only as dictated by confrontation,” the memo said. “This philosophy, so far, has allowed us to neutralize or hold in check data already generated by investigators who question the safety of talc.” It reveals that scientific ghostwriters have been hired for long to hide evidence of “cancer concern associated with exposure to talc.” Based on an Italian study, one such ghost authored article that appeared in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in 1976 found no mesothelioma, the signature cancer of asbestos exposure. The Italian study in question has been updated three times – in 1979, 2003 and 2017 – “confirming the lack of association between exposure to asbestos-free talc, lung cancer and mesothelioma.” The investigative underlines that Johnson & Johnson got a lot of mileage out of the study. It was cited in a review article titled “The Biology of Talc,” published Nov. 1, 1976, in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine.

In addition to dozens of published studies, the review cited unpublished research, including one experiment that used a doll as a proxy for infants and that supported the company’s position on the safety of talc. It didn’t disclose that Johnson & Johnson had commissioned the unpublished research. The author of the review article concluded that the “concern that has been expressed about the possible health hazard from consumer exposure to cosmetic talc is unwarranted … There is no evidence that its normal use poses a hazard to health.” The author was Hildick-Smith, the Johnson & Johnson physician executive who had overseen the Italian study and played a key role in the company’s talc safety research. The article did not disclose his Johnson & Johnson connection, identifying him only as a Rutgers University Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

In a related event, I was a panelist at a Round Table Conference on Issues Related to Asbestos Use in India held at India International Centre, New Delhi on December 21, 2009, wherein Dr Iqbal Ahmad, a scientist from IITR, Lucknow said that there are many different sources of asbestos exposures which need to be looked at. He identified talc (powder) as a major source which has asbestos contamination and exposes a large section of population, especially children and women. Talc is used in several industries as raw material. He said that we do have numbers of talc based cosmetic powders in India. China is the largest producer of talc. Some 47 companies which used to procure Chinese talc powder had to withdraw their product from market in South Korea due to high asbestos contamination.

We submit that Commission’s intervention will be germane in the light of the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) Vs Union of India (1995 AIR 922, 1995 SCC (3) 42) that recognized right to health as part of right to life and had directed central and state governments to revise their law related asbestos in keeping with fresh resolutions of International Labour Organisation (ILO). ILO’s asbestos related resolution of June 2006 is relevant in this regard (Reference: https://www.ilo.org/safework/info/standards-and-instruments/WCMS_108556/lang--en/index.htm  . The ILO resolution was followed by a joint publication of WHO and ILO titled "Outline for the Development of National Programmes for Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases" published in December 2007. It creates a logical compulsion for urgent remedial action. (Reference: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/resources-library/publications/WCMS_108555/lang--en/index.htm)

In view of the above, we submit that instead of waiting for the coo withdraw its asbestos-laden talcum powder products-both baby powder and adult powder, the Commission must consider recommending to the central government and state governments to prevent preventable diseases and deaths by banning these products with immediate effect.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Occupational Health India (OHI)
Mb: 9818089660
E-mail:krishnaruhani@gmail.com 






TWA"s letter to CPCB and APPCB on Styrene Gas Leak Disaster

Written By mediavigil on Thursday, May 07, 2020 | 6:30 AM

To

Chairman
Central Pollution Control Board 
Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change
Government of  India

Chairman
Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board
Government of Andhra Pradesh 

Date:07, 2020

Subject- Styrene Gas Leak Disaster in the factory of South Korean company LG Chem's subsidiary LG Polymers India Private Limited located at Gopalapatnam, Visakhapatnam

Sir, 

With reference to the above mentioned subject, I wish to draw your attention towards the fact that under the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 and Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 farmed as per Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 it is the "occupier" who is responsible for preparation of on-site emergency plan as per Rule 13, Schedule 11 of 1989 Rules. The duty of ensuring compliance with this provision is required to be fulfilled by CPCB or SPCB as per it's Schedule 5. 

I submit that as per Rule 13 (3), this on-site emergency plan is required to be prepared before the industrial activity commences. The "occupier", the person who has control over the affairs of the factory or the premises and the person who is in possession of the substance as per 2(f) of 1986 Act is supposed to ensure that a mock drill of the on-site emergency plan is concluded every six months. 

I submit that given the fact that Part II of Schedule I, item no. 583 of the 1989 Rules includes "Styrene", an organic compound in the list of hazardous chemicals under Rule 4( 2), the occupier is required to provide evidence that he has identified the major accident hazards and has taken adequate steps to prevent such major accidents and to limit their consequences to persons and environment besides providing information, training and equipment including antidotes necessary to persons working on the site. 

The disaster in the factory of LG Chem's subsidiary demonstrates that these provisions of the rules have not been complied with. There has been dereluction of duty on the part of both the occupier and the concerned officials of the Pollution Control Board. 

Both the occupier and the officials have failed to give required attention to the hazardous and carcinogenic nature of 
Styrene. It is a "known carcinogen", especially in case of eye contact, but also in case of skin contact, of ingestion and of inhalation. Styrene is largely metabolized into styrene oxide in humans. Styrene oxide is considered toxic, mutagenic, and possibly carcinogenic.The USA's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has described styrene to be "a suspected toxin to the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, and respiratory system, among others". The precautionary principle too required abundant caution from both the occupier and the officials. 

In view of the non-compliance with the environmental laws, injury and loss of lives, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), a research and advocacy group demands that a high powered transdisplinary committee be set up to inquire into the causes and effects of this industrial disaster and to fix accountability for the acts of ommission and commission in the matter of 7th May 2020 gas leak disaster from the factory of LG Chem's  LG Polymers India Private Limited. 

Thanking You 

Warm Regards
Gopal Krishna
Director
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb:9818089660
Web:www.toxicswatch.org



National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers rejects the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019

Written By mediavigil on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 | 11:21 PM

National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers [NPSSFW(I)] rejects the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 aimed at multiplying the profit of the merchants of death and the investors in ship breaking industry

The Recycling of Ships Act, 2019, though camouflaged as an act to regulate ship breaking industry, is primarily aimed at opening of our coasts for dumping of abandoned ships of the world. Ship breaking is one of the most hazardous industries the world has ever experienced. The abandoned ships are store houses of toxic materials and pollutants. Depending on their size and weight, each abandoned ship contains - between 10 and 100 tons of paint containing lead, cadmium, organotins, arsenic, zinc and chromium. Ships also contain a wide range of other hazardous wastes, sealants containing PCBs, up to 7.5 tones of various types of asbestos and several thousands liters of oil (engine oil, bilge oil, hydraulic and lubricants oils and grease). Tankers additionally hold up to 1,000 cubic meters of residual oil. Most of these materials have been defined as hazardous waste under the Basel Convention*. Ship breaking activities is a threat to both the terrestrial and marine environment as well as to public health. 

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Until the late 20th century, the majority of ship-breaking activity took place in the port cities of industrialized countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. But then the industry started shifting to third world countries. Currently, the global center of the ship breaking and recycling industry is located in South Asia, specifically Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. These three countries account for 70–80 percent of the international market for ship breaking of ocean-going vessels, with China and Turkey accounting for most of the rest. Only about 5 percent of the global volume of such vessels is scrapped outside these five countries. This has happened due to two main reasons - a. availability of cheap labour, and b. adoption of stringent environmental and occupational norms in the developed countries that made ship breaking much costlier. 

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In the largest ship breaking centre in India at Alang on Gujarat coast the environmental protection has been very limited in most yards and the sound management of asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), ozone-depleting substances (ODS), and a range of heavy metals is virtually nonexistent. The chief concerns are:  
  • Dismantling of ships in the unprotected intertidal zone instead of dry dock; 
  • No adequate environmental impact assessment regarding pollution caused by toxics paints, slag and debris released in the intertidal zone, the adequacy of oil spill remediation and air pollution with toxic fumes;
  • Lack of sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and its adequate use as well as lack of proper training, recurrence of accidents and loss of life;
  • Unsound hazardous waste management (in particular, re-sale of asbestos-containing materials and lack of PCB-destruction facility);
  • Poor living conditions, lack of proper medical facilities, wages lower than living wage;
  • No strict law enforcement.  
The severe pollution generated at the ship breaking yards of Alang continues to affect severely the air, water and soil quality of the area. Fish stock has almost perished and the fish available there is highly contaminated with heavy metals and other toxics. 
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The Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 has opened the coasts of India to import abandoned ships for recycling from all over the world. This import of hazardous waste is against the spirit of Basel Convention, of which India has been a signatory. Not only that, without restricting ship breaking in dry dock and allowing it in inter-tidal zones the Act renders itself into an instrument to destroy one of the most eco-sensitive zones. Moreover Environmental damages could worsen as a result of sea level rise. The SBRI location and industrial practices make it highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and especially to sea level rise. The ship breaking industry’s legacy pollution could pose significant threats and challenges at both local and regional scales as rising ocean and tide levels submerge beach and near-shore ship breaking areas, washing out accumulated pollutants. In storm surge events, a sudden release of quantities of the contaminated landside beach material into the marine zone may severely affect local fisheries.

The world community took serious note of the seriousness of transboundary movement of hazardous waste way back in 1994 and through BAN amendment proposed prohibition of all transboundary movements of hazardous wastes covered by the Basel Convention that are intended for final disposal, and of all transboundary movements of hazardous wastes  that are destined for reuse, recycling or recovery operations.

It is unfortunate that the Government of India, though a party to the Basel Convention, did not sign the BAN amendment. It was an act presumably to enrich the coffers of investors in recycling industries at the cost of our environment, natural resources and the life and livelihood of people dependent on these resources. The small scale fishing communities reject this conspiracy against the people of India.
 
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