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Indian govt betrays its citizens supports asbestos industry

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | 11:10 AM

Indian government took an internationally untenable position on 28th October at a UN meeting in Rome by opposing the inclusion of Chrysotile Asbestos in the UN's hazardous chemical list under the manifest influence of Asbestos industry and Canadian and Russian governments.

Italy born President of Indian National Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi and her government headed by Manmohan Singh ignored the appeals by its own Environment & Health Ministry along with trade unions & environmental groups to support the inclusion of Chrysotile Asbestos in the list of hazardous chemicals but Indian officials at the UN meeting in Rome are all set to disregard the public interest concerns and be guided by the industry.

Manmohan Singh government has betrayed the public interest by taking an unpardonable position that endangers each and every citizen of the country at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-4) of the UN's Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade commenced today at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy. The meeting would conclude on 31 October.

There are 39 substances on the Rotterdam Convention's international trade watch list, under which an exporting nation must ensure no substance on the list leaves its territory without the consent of the recipient country. The watch list is formally known as the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.

Chrysotile asbestos, which is widely used in building materials, accounts for some 94 per cent of global asbestos production. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has identified it as a human carcinogen, and reports that at least 90,000 people die each year of asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. And International Labour Organisation has called for the elimination of its use.

A number of countries, including some that continue to mine and export chrysotile asbestos, blocked its addition to the PIC list when the Parties to the Convention last met in 2006 and further opposition is expected at next week's meeting, according to FAO. India is the largest importers and consumers of Canadian and Russian asbestos to the detriment of its citizens and workers.

Manmohan Singh government has turned a blind eye towards how the atmosphere around asbestos factory and asbestos products becomes poisonous.

When the matter came for discussion on 28 October, Head of the Indian delegation R H Khawaja, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment opposed the listing of Chrysotile asbestos and endosulphan in the PIC list for hazardous chemicals and pesticides. Indian government's delegation acted under tremendous pressure from the representatives of Indian Chemical Industry and Chrysotile asbestos industry who dictated government's official position.

Reacting to the unfortunate position of the government for the fourth time, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) condemned the Indian position and said,
"It clearly illustrates that the ruling Indian National Congress Party politicians are either themselves owners of asbestos companies or are in hand in glove with these companies in their naked lust for profit."


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For Details:Gopal Krishna,Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Mb: 9818089660
E-mail:krishnagreen@gmail.com

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