India Ban Asbestos Network launched!

Jan 31, 2018

Small group work at the IBAN meeting in December 2017.

India is currently the second largest consumer of asbestos in the world. Latest trade data suggests imports of almost 308,000 tonnes of asbestos in 2016, second only to China. The Indian government has also maintained a strong resistance to listing chrysotile (white asbestos) in the Rotterdam Convention that lists hazardous chemicals. Despite prohibiting mining from asbestos mines in 2013, India continues mining other mineral sites that may contain asbestos. This means that some miners are still exposed.

For many years, health sector NGOs like the Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI), Indian trade unions, Building and Wood Worker’s International (BWI) supported by Solidar Suisse, Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Asia Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN)and the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) have been successfully campaigning for rights to compensation for victims and helping identify asbestos related disease cases. They have also been campaigning for an asbestos ban at local levels across India. In December 2017 Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA supported two historic national meetings held on the following themes:

  • asbestos hazard awareness
  • building a national asbestos BAN network in India

These meetings were in collaboration with ABAN and IBAS. Union Aid Abroad was active in helping plan the meeting and Phillip Hazelton, APHEDA’s Asbestos Campaign Coordinator, presented on sharing other Southeast Asia Ban network experiences and lessons.

Bringing together 16 organisations consisting of Trade Unions, NGOs, victim’s organisations and individual scientists, doctors and lawyers from across India, the meeting made the momentous decision to come together and campaign as a national asbestos ban network. The network is called India Ban Asbestos Network – IBAN.

The network agreed to focus on key objectives including:

  • Raise awareness of national politicians and policy makers as to the urgent need for a ban on asbestos
  • Launch an information and education campaign about health hazards of asbestos among the workers engaged in asbestos product manufacturing. In India this includes the construction, mining and ship breaking sectors in particular.
  • Promote non-asbestos (alternative material) products and just transition for existing workers working in these hazardous industries.
  • Work towards identification and diagnosis of the victims across India to ensure just compensation for them.

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA congratulates all involved in the India BAN Asbestos Network!

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