#Human Rights
Prime Minister Office, Government of India

Asbestos is a known carcinogen. Asbestos was once widely used worldwide, but it is now banned or restricted in more than 50 countries. According to WHO estimates, more than 107 000 people die each year from asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis resulting from occupational exposure. About 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace.

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.

Although India has banned the mining of Asbestos, it continues to import and use the deadly substance. India imported more than 350,000 metric tons of Asbestos in 2010 primarily from Russia, Canada and Kazakhstan.

No attempts have been made by the Government to identify and locate probable victims of Asbestos related disorders and there is no official statistics available. The industry is owned by Government officials who influence decision making.

• Kerala human rights Commission had ordered the removal of all Asbestos Roofing sheets from schools in Kerala.

• Hon’be Supreme Court in 1995 had ordered compensation to Asbestosis victims, maintenance of medical records and personal protective equipment to all workers.

• International agencies like International Agency for Research in Cancer (WHO), Collegium Ramazzini, InternationalLabor Organisation have categorised all forms of asbestos as human carcinogens and have called for global phase out.

• The National Institute of Occupational Health has studied the working conditions and health of miners and mill workers in asbestos mines/milling factories of Rajasthan and Cuddapah-AP and have found cases of asbestos related diseases amongst the present and ex-workers.

• ITRC had studied working conditions in the asbestos mines and mills of Rajasthan and had found cases of asbestosis amongst men, women and children.

There is a body of evidence which unquestionably proves that asbestos (and its products) cannot be mined, manufactured and used safely anywhere in the world. The developed world, for instance Japan, UK, France, are facing epidemic with thousands of deaths every year due to asbestos related diseases. 75% of occupational deaths in Quebec-Canada (world's largest chrysotile asbestos mining area) are due to asbestos.

You can view the film “India’s Asbestos Time Bomb” by visiting


India’s Asbestos Time Bomb, a monograph written by leading experts which quantifies the country’s asbestos scandal, is available online at:


In commemoration of the December 2010 historic mission by Asian ban asbestos campaigners to Canada, we issue this petition calling on the Indian Government to implement a comprehensive and total ban on the use of all asbestos fiber and asbestos-containing products throughout India within the next three years. During the phase-out period, we call on the authorities to:

• Identify and list all asbestos product manufacturing and allied industries across the country. (including those in the organised and unorganised sector)

• Quantify the import, export and use of asbestos in these industries

• Instruct the Ministry of Commerce to move asbestos import/export from OGL to restricted list

• Make an assessment of implementation of the 1995 Supreme Court order and take stringent action against all companies found to be guilty of non-implementation of the order.

• Constitute a multi-disciplinary committee to draw up an action plan for phasing out asbestos production and use in the country.

• Issue orders that state authorities must identify the number of workers (both unorganised and organised) engaged in asbestos handling, mining, manufacture and use.

• Work out mechanisms with the state governments for long term medical surveillance and health care of asbestos workers and their families

• Given the long term health impact of asbestos, create special government insurance and compensation schemes for at-risk workers, those who handled asbestos (the majority of these workers are in the unorganised sector and are not covered under ESI).

• Create a special compensation fund with contributions from the asbestos industry for long term medical care of asbestos victims. The creation of such a fund should not be misconstrued to legitimise the continuation of the asbestos industry, but should be seen as an affirmative action to take care of the long term medical care and economic rehabilitation of asbestos victims and their families.

• Undertake a thorough technical inspection of all asbestos mines, draw up a technically-validated closure plan and form monitoring committees, which include members of local communities, to oversee the closures

• Conduct environmental and health monitoring in areas surrounding derelict and active asbestos mines.

• Take legal action against mining companies which are found to be in violation of improper closure of old/abandoned mines or are still operating illegal mines

• Constitute a multi-disciplinary committee with representatives from government departments to assess reports commissioned from independent, technical and socio-economic experts on the operations of existing and abandoned asbestos mines which consider not only the technical aspects of mine closures and environmental management but also look into the medical, social and economic rehabilitation of labour.

• Constitute an inter-departmental committee to phase out asbestos manufacture and use in India; recommend safer alternatives; work with some of the CSIR institutions which are already working on developing alternatives to asbestos fibres which are easily and cost effectively available in India. If necessary give subsidies/incentives (in a time bound manner) to encourage the use of safer alternatives and create disincentives for continued use of asbestos.

• Set a three year time-frame for the complete phase out of all manufacture and use of asbestos.

• Recommend Ministry of Environment and Forests not to give environmental clearances to asbestos manufacturing units or their expansions.

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The PETITION TO INDIAN GOVT– NATIONAL ASBESTOS BAN petition to Prime Minister Office, Government of India was written by Mohit and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.