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The Indian Perspective Dr. Tushar Kant Joshi Director, Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health- India Deadly fibre An asbestos mine near Udaipur, Rajasthan •The second-most populous country with more than 1.2 billion people, India’s extensive use of asbestos will likely have a significant impact on the future health of the country’s population. Experts predict a pattern similar to what developed in the United States over the past 50 years: a dramatic rise in the number of cases of asbestos-related diseases. • India no longer mines asbestos, but it is the top importer of Canadian asbestos. About 20 years ago, India handled 500,000 tons of asbestos cement roofing. Today, that number is closer to four million tons. Current use of Asbestos in India •Textiles •Insulation Millboards •Compressed Fibre Jointing •Roof Panelling sheets •Low Friction Bearing Materials •Automotive Brake lining, Clutch Facings. • Automotive/Industrial Roll Linings. • Friction sheets Asbestos Units in India S. No. State/Uts No. Of Units No. of workers 1 Andhra Pradesh 7 1389 2 Assam 2 45 3 Delhi 6 231 4 Gujarat 13 739 5 Haryana 19 1300 6 Jharkhand 2 153 7 Karnataka 2 370 S Kerala 1 200 9 Madhya Pradesh 11 610 10 Orissa 1 477 11 Rajasthan 5 61 12 Tamil Nadu S 1677 13 Uttar Pradesh 11 711 14 West Bengal 9 1200 15 Maharashtra 24 1338 Source: Environment Impact Assessment Guidance Manual for Asbestos Based Industries. Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India, New Delhi According to the authentic information provided in India Parliament the supreme body to frame constitution and rules, the asbestos use in India has been increasing. The quantum of Chrysotile Asbestos consumed in the country during each of the last three years and the current year is as under Indian Asbestos Consumption S. N. Year Consumption of Asbestos 1 2008 3,00,000 tones 2 2009 3,60,000 tones 3 2010 4,00,000 tones 4 2011 4,15,000 tones (approx) Source: Government of India, Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers The Health Impact Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive mortality data and compensation records to show the scale of health devastation due to asbestos exposure. This lack of data is evident from the fact that despite over 50 years of use and a consumption of over 7 million tones of asbestos in the last few decades, the Employees State Insurance Corporation of India shows only 51 cases of compensation to workers suffering from asbestosis, a lung disease caused by asbestos exposure. • Only 222 cases of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos in the protective lining of inner organs, has been registered at the Indian Cancer Registry, Gujarat Cancer and Research Institute and Tata Memorial Trust combined. • Despite the fact that Asbestos is dangerous, the Asbestos industry has been on an expansion spree and increasing their capacity and production in India. False information is spread about the safety and controlled use of Asbestos whereas it has been cited by agencies like WHO and ILO that safe use of Asbestos is not possible and there is no safe exposure limit. The only way to prevent Asbestos related disorders is to stop using Asbestos. Shipbreakers at Alang, Gujarat, are constantly exposed to asbestos poisoning Source: http://www.tehelka.com Incidence and Distribution of Mesothelioma cases in India ( year 2006-2008) Total number of cases STATES reported 1 Bangalore 1 2 Bhopal 1 3 Chennai 4 4 Delhi 0 5 Assam 2 6 Gujarat 3 7 Kolkata 1 Total 12 Ref: National Cancer Registration Program ( Indian Council of Medical Research) : 2006-2008 The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 • A private member bill to provide for a total ban on use and import of white asbestos in the country and to promote the use of safer and cheaper alternative to white asbestos and for matters connected. • Efforts to ban asbestos nationally have gone nowhere. The White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill, 2009 — introduced in the Rajya Sabha (Indian Upper House of Parliament) by Hon’ble Member of Parliament — drew flak from another influential Member of Parliament, an industrialist and chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, and Forests. The bill is pending in the Upper House, but observers give it little chance of passage. The Environment (Protection) Act • The Environment (Protection) Act was enacted in 1986 with the objective of providing for the protection and improvement of the environment. It empowers the Central Government to establish authorities [under section 3(3)] charged with the mandate of preventing environmental pollution in all its forms and to tackle specific environmental problems that are peculiar to different parts of the country. The Act was last amended in 1991. • The Ministry of Labour and Employment, Govt. of India is the nodal ministry for labour protection and safety in India and has announced a new “National policy on Safety, Health and Environment at Work Place” in India in 2009. For prevention and control of asbestos exposure in manufacturing industry, The Factories Act, 1948, and the rules made there under have provisions and standards mandatory in nature. For mining of asbestos there is an Indian Mines Act 1952, and the rules that prescribes standards as well as the list of diseases attributable to asbestos exposure • There are two other acts which address workplace asbestos exposure; The Port and Dock Workers Act, 1986 and Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. The Employee Compensation Act, 2010 • For workers employed in unorganized sector and falling victims to occupational injuries and diseases. The two technical agencies of the Union Ministry of Labour at Mumbai, and in Dhanbad, along with state department of labour are responsible for enforcing the labour safety regulations. Indian Mines Act 1952 • The Union Government today approved the introduction of a Bill in the Parliament to amend the Mines Act, 1952 (35 of 1952). The Bill proposes to amend and consolidate the law relating to regulation of condition of work and welfare of persons employed in mines and for the matter connected therewith or incidental thereto. • The Mines Act, 1952 provide for the health, safety and well being of persons employed in mines. The Act regulate the working conditions and environment in mines with a view to making work more humane and to provide for measures to prevent accidents and occupational diseases and contain provision of some basic amenities to mine workers. It also prescribes a system of inspection of mines for enforcement of the legislation The Factories Act, 1948 • The Factories Act, 1948' was made applicable in the country mainly to regulate health, safety, welfare and working conditions of Industrial workers. It has been amended from time to time, but the major amendments were enacted in 1976 and in 1987, wherein emphasis has been laid on safety in general and chemical safety in particular. To strengthen safety in chemical factories. • To look after welfare of female workers, Lady Inspector of Factories has also been appointed under the Factories Act, 1948. All Inspectors have been declared as Assistant Public Prosecutors for purpose of Factories Act • To measure and monitor the ill effects of chemicals, cotton dust, Asbestos dust and Silica dust etc., Industrial Hygiene Laboratory has been established under the Chief Inspector of Factories. It is headed by Dy. Director of occupational health and consists of Medical Inspectors of Factories, Certifying Surgeons and other technical staff. Gaps and drawbacks in implementation: • No scientific/baseline data for the country regarding the burden of asbestos related diseases. • Lack of will and commitment on the part of authorities. • Lack of awareness among the stakeholders regarding the use of the asbestos, particularly good work practices, prevention and control measures, Use of Personal Protective Equipment, Disposal of asbestos Containing Waste and other issues. • No capacity building or training has been undertaken by the respective central and state agencies to train the stakeholders to reduce and control risks arising out of asbestos use that can prevent morbidity and mortality substantially. • No strict implementation of laws and Acts given by Supreme Court and MOEF, India.
"The Indian Perspective - OHCOW"