The Supreme Court orders of 1995 and 2011 categorically refer to studies that have established proven relation between asbestos exposure and incurable lung cancer. Even World Bank and Asian Development Bank documents underline the carcinogenic risks of asbestos fibers besides WHO and ILO. White asbestos is admittedly a hazardous chemical substance for environment by a number of countries in the world. ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), the complainant has also requested NHRC for grant of a compensation package for present and future victims of asbestos diseases.
NHRC can teach is a lesson to the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests which pretends ignorance about its own Vision Statement on Environment and Health on its website and continues to grant environmental clearance to such hazardous asbestos based factories which are
banned in over 50 countries. The Vision Statement reads: "Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out." The central ministry's document says so at page no. 12. It is available at http://moef.nic.in/divisions/cpoll/envhealth/visenvhealth.pdf
Concerned authorities in Bihar should note that Union Ministry of Labour has revealed that that the "Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos" at page no. 28 of its concept paper at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on "Occupational Safety and Health" during 19-20 September, 2011.
But Government of India, State Governments and Union Territories are yet to comply with the Supreme Court's order of January 27, 1995 and January 21, 2011. Its directions were
reiterated in Jan 21, 2011 order. The attached Labor Ministry's Advisory Committee for compliance merits urgent attention. All the central ministries and State Governments have to comply in a similar format.
Hon'ble Supreme Court's directions in its judgement dated January 21, 2011 is contained in paragraph no.s 14. The paragraph 14 of the Hon'ble Supreme Court's order reads as under:
"14. In the matter relating to secondary exposure of workers to asbestos, though the grounds have been taken in the Writ Petition without any factual basis, again in the Rejoinder filed to the counter affidavit of respondent No.37, this issue has been raised by the petitioner
in detail. In the earlier judgment of this Court in the case of Consumer Education and Research Centre (supra), hazards arising out of primary use of asbestos were primarily dealt with, but certainly secondary exposure also needs to be examined by the Court. In that judgment, the Court had noticed that it would, thus, be clear that diseases occurred wherever the exposure
to the toxic or carcinogenic agent occurs, regardless of the country, type of industry, job title, job assignment or location of exposure. The diseases will follow the trail of the exposure and extend the chain of the carcinogenic risk beyond the work place. In that judgment, the Court had
also directed that a review by the Union and the States shall be made after every ten years and also as and when the ILO gives directions in this behalf consistent with its recommendations or conventions. Admittedly, 15 years has expired since the issuance of the directions by this Court. The ILO also made certain specific directions vide its resolution of 2006 adopted in the
95th session of the International Labour Conference. It introduced a ban on all mining, manufacture, recycling and use of all forms of asbestos. As already noticed, serious doubts have been raised as to whether `controlled use' can be effectively implemented even with regard to secondary exposure. These are circumstances which fully require the concerned quarters/authorities in the Government of India as well as the State Governments to examine/review the matter in accordance with law, objectively, to achieve the greater health care of the poor strata of the country who are directly or indirectly engaged in mining or manufacturing activities of asbestos and/or allied products. "
Cancer, Laryngeal Cancer, Other Cancer b. Diseases are produced in the person involved in Asbestos Industry."
exposure to asbestos is essential."
arising from historical use of all forms of asbestos. WHO, in collaboration with ILO and with other intergovernmental organizations and civil society, will work with countries towards elimination of asbestos-related diseases in the following strategic directions:
- by recognizing that the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related
diseases is to stop the use of all types of asbestos;
- by providing information about solutions for replacing asbestos with safer
substitutes and developing economic and technological mechanisms to stimulate its replacement;
- by taking measures to prevent exposure to asbestos in place and during asbestos removal (abatement);
- by improving early diagnosis, treatment, social and medical rehabilitation of asbestos-related diseases and by establishing registries of people with past and/or current exposures to asbestos."
In view of the above, it is quite clear that there is a compelling logic for the central government and the Ministry of Health and Environment & Forests to initiate elimination of asbestos based products and to decontaminate building of asbestos fibers.