Abandon asbestos, ToxicsWatch Alliance asks Nitish
TWA demands compensation fund for victims of past exposure
Operation in Goraul factory has only been suspended
Staff Reporter, The Hindu
Patna: ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), which has been waging a long battle against the hazardous effects of asbestos on workers in factories and villages, on Friday appealed to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to stop asbestos factories.
“We submit that the Bihar government must be made to adopt a policy of zero tolerance against asbestos-based industrial projects. All the locations where asbestos plants are proposed are simmering with discontent. These hazardous projects must be abandoned,” the non-governmental organisation said in its letter.
It demanded that the government set up a fund “to provide compensation to the asbestos victims of past exposure by making asbestos-based companies liable for knowingly exposing workers, consumers and citizens to asbestos fibres.”
The government should create a database of workers in such factories to “pursue the case of legal and medical remedy for these workers who are bound to suffer from asbestos-related incurable diseases.”
Facing opposition to asbestos-based plants, the government shut the facility in Marwan, Muzaffarpur, but operation in the factory at Goraul, Vaishali, has only been suspended, the letter points out.
The TWA, in its letter, also alleged that Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is in charge of Environment and Forests, “misinformed the State Assembly about the Supreme Court’s order on asbestos and adverse health impact studies.” Mr. Modi had said using asbestos products posed no health hazard.
The court, in its January 21, 2011 order, referred to its earlier judgment to observe that diseases occurred from exposure to toxic agents, “regardless of the country, type of industry, job title, job assignment or location of exposure. The diseases will follow the trail of exposure and extend the chain of the carcinogenic risk beyond the work place.”
Citing international examples, the letter said a total shutdown of asbestos mines took place in Canada by 2011.