MAC: Mines and Communities

From Quebec to India - Merchants of Death

Published by MAC on 2011-02-07
Source: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)

Opposition is mounting in Quebec to the proposed re-opening of Canada's only asbestos mine. See:- Asian anti-asbestos delegation headed to Quebec

In India, thousands have taken to the streets, demanding cancellation of a planned asbestos cement plant.

However, last week, a trade delegation from Montreal was in India and it was strongly suspected of seeking to forge a Quebec-India Collaboration Agreement on the "safe use" of chrysotile asbestos.

** Updated on 28th February 2011

Merchants Of Death From Quebec Seducing Indian Government & Companies

BANI Appeals To Commerce, Finance & Environment Ministries To Avoid Trade With Promoters Of Killer Quebec Asbestos In India

BANI Seeks Incentives For Asbestos Alternatives In The Budget

BANI Press Release

2 February 2011

New Delhi: Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) condemns the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and the Indian Merchants' Chamber at the beginning of the 2011 trade mission to India, organized by a asbestos trade promoter like the Government of Quebec, Canada. The MoU was signed on 31st December 2010.

A Quebec government's trade mission led by Clement Gignac, Economic Development Minister is in India from January 30 - February 4. This mission comprises of a representative of Baljit Chadha's Balcorp Ltd who has been exporting Canadian chrysotile asbestos for 15 years and who heads the consortium of investors interested in the expansion of Jeffrey Mine for asbestos fibers in Quebec. BANI has sent a letter to the Quebec Premier Jean Charest persuading him not to provide fiscal support for the asbestos mines in Quebec. The letter is attached and is available on

This mission is in India with an ulterior motive of drawing up a Quebec-India Collaboration Agreement on "safe use" of chrysotile asbestos. It is noteworthy that not a single reputable medical authority in the world supports the Quebec government and asbestos industry's position.

The signing of this agreement reveals the callous disregard of the Quebec based asbestos mining companies and Indian asbestos product manufacturing companies towards the health of Indians. "Exporting Quebec" initiative of Quebec government is guilty of promoting killer fibers of asbestos in Indian markets.

An extra-ordinary letter sent to Gignac by Public Health directors of all of Quebec's eighteen health & social regions reveals how not a single reputable medical authority in Canada or Quebec supports the government/industry's position on Chrysotile Asbestos. Copies of this letter have been sent to Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Health minister Yves Bolduc, and National Director of Public Health, Alain Poirier. BANI has endorsed the contents of this letter. The original signed letter in French is available here:

The English translation is attached and available on

Gignac is in India this week on a trade mission, accompanied by a representative of Québec's Occupational Health & Safety Commission and a representative of Balcorp Ltd (who are part of the consortium of investors who want to re-open the Jeffrey mine).

BANI appeals to Mumbai based Indian Merchants' Chamber to desist from indulging in asbestos trade to safeguard the health interests of present and future generation of Indians.

BANI urges Anand Sharma, Union Commerce Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, Union Finance Minister and Jairam Ramesh, Union Environment Minister to take cognizance of the fact that Turkey banned asbestos on December 31, 2010 joining the league of more than 55 countries that have prohibited mining, trade, manufacturing and use of asbestos of all kinds in the interest of their citizens' health.

At least since 1982, Union Finance Ministry has been extending fiscal incentives to asbestos industry, BANI appeals to the Finance Minister to desist from supporting the killer industry. BANI is seeking incentive for the alternatives of asbestos mineral fibers in the upcoming session of the Parliament when the Budget is presented this year.

Instead of succumbing to pressure from Clément Godbout, president of the asbestos lobby group the Chrysotile Institute, Chrysotile Asbestos Products Manufacturers, Asbestos Information Centre and politicians who asbestos companies, concerned ministries must take note of the Ban Asbestos Movement in India and initiate preventive and curative measures to protect the public health of fellow citizens and their human rights as underlined by the Kerala Human Rights Commission and National Human Rights Commission.

BANI had demonstrated against the trade mission led by Quebec Premier Jean Charest that visited India last year demanding immediate ban on asbestos mining, trade and had sought political action against the crime against humanity.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)/Asbestos Mukti Andolan Web:

Construction of Asbestos Plant in Muzaffarpur Stopped

Nine Left Parties Appeal to Bihar CM in Support of Ban Asbestos Struggle in Bihar

Incestuous Relation of Asbestos Company & Govt Condemned

1 February 2011

Muzaffarpur/Patna/New Delhi: In the aftermath of the announcement of the stoppage of construction work for the hazardous Asbestos Cement Plant & imposition of Section 144 of Indian Penal Code in Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur, nine political parties have sent a joint letter to the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar seeking permanent closure of the asbestos factory. These parties sat on an unprecedented Mahadharana at the Muzaffarpur District Collectorate. The joint letter is attached.

Protest gainst the proposed asbestos plant in Muzaffarpur, Bihar
Protest against the proposed asbestos plant in Muzaffarpur,
  Source: Gopal Krishna, BANI

It is a scientifically and medically established fact that the proposed Chrysotile (White) Asbestos based plant will cause preventable but incurable diseases like lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. So far more than 55 countries have banned asbestos of all kinds and UN agencies like WHO and ILO have sought elimination of future use of asbestos of all kinds including white asbestos. It is also a proven fact that safe and controlled use of asbestos is impossible.

This letter was read out today at a Mahadharana of thousands of people led by Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) [SUCI], Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPIML], Samajwadi Jan Parishad (SJP), Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPIM], Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (Liberation), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Forward Block, Marxist Communist Party of India (United) [MCPIU]. The joint letter seeks immediate intervention of the Bihar Chief Minister to prevent asbestos plant and expressed disappointment with the role of Union Environment Ministry and Bihar's Environment Department.

The letter and Mahadharna of these parties expressed their support for the struggle of the villagers' Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jansangharsh Committee which is underway for the last six months. This movement against the toxic asbestos plant has faced police atrocities including lathi charge and police firing. Initial objections against the proposed Asbestos Plant of Balmukund Cement & Roofing Ltd were raised in May 2010 when it was found that the company has indulged in fraudulent misrepresentation by referring to fertile land as barren land and misleading the villagers about the purpose of the acquisition of the agricultural field. The company has violated every provision of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006.

The speakers at the Mahadharna raised slogans like "Sushil Modi-N K Kanodia Murdabad", District Magistrate Anand Kishore-Balmukund Murdabad" referring to the collusion between the Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Balmukund company's owner and district administration. The Mahadharna was addressed by Asbestos Mukti Andolan/Ban Asbetsos Network of India (BANI) as well raising issues of other proposed asbestos plants in Bihar including:

1) Chennai based Ramco Industries Ltd for establishment of 1,20,000 MT/Annum Capacity of Asbestos Cement Sheet Plant and 2 Lakh MT/Annum Capacity of Cement Grinding Plant at Industrial Area, Bihiya, Bhojpur

2) Chennai based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd for establishment of the One Lakh MT Capacity Asbestos Fiber Cement Corrugated Sheet, Flat Sheet and Accessories and Light Weight Fly Ash Block Plant at Industrial Growth Centre, Giddha, Ara, Bhojpur

3) Andhra Pradesh based Hyderabad Industries Ltd for establishment of 2,50,000 MT per year capacity Asbestos Cement Sheeting Plant in two Phases at Kumarbagh Industrial Area, West Champaran

4) Kolkata based Balmukund Cement & Roofings Ltd for establishment of 1.5 Lakh MT capacity production unit of Asbestos Fiber Cement Sheet (Corrugated/Flat) and Accessories at Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur

5) Kolkata based UAL Industries Ltd for Establishment of 2, 33, 000 MT per year capacity Asbestos Cement Sheet and Corrugated Sheets Plant in two phases at Goraul, Vaishali in the name of UAL-Bihar. Earlier it was proposed at Bakhtiyarpur

6) Rajasthan based A Infrastructure Ltd for establishment of 1, 25, 000 MT per year capacity Asbestos Cement (A.C.) Sheet and 1,00,000 MT per year capacity A.C. Pressure Pipe at Pandaul Industrial Area, Madhubani. Earlier it was proposed in Industrial Area, Kumarbagh, Bettiah

The Mahadharna was presided over by Shiv Shankar, SUCI (Communist), Ajay Kumar Singh, CPI, Ram Pukar Sahni, CPIM, Sakal Thakur, CPIML (Liberation), Jagat Narain Rai, SJP, Uday Shanakr, CPIML, Chandra Mohan Prasad, MCPIU and Anawarul Haq, RSP. The Press Release issued on behalf of the nine parties in Hindi is also attached.

The Mahadharna and the joint letter demanded immediate closure of the factory, withdrawal of fake cases against the conveners of the villagers' Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jansangharsh Committee, unconditional release of the arrested leaders of the Committee and sought action against the culprits who fired and lathi charged peaceful protestors including women.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Ban Asbestos Network of India/Asbestos Mukti Andolan,


Anti Asbestos Movement Reaches Patna

Delegation Demanding Ban on Killer Meets Bihar Industry Minister

Massive Citizens March Against Asbestos Plants in Bihar

Memorandum Demanding Change in Asbestos Industry Submitted to CM

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) Press Statement

10 February 2011

Patna/New Delhi - Inhalation of asbestos fibres has been shown to lead to a number of serious health risks, including asbestosis and the cancer mesothelioma which are preventable but incurable. Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) supports the Citizens March against asbestos plants in Bihar and the struggle of Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jansangharsh Committee against the proposed plant in Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur. This movement of the Committee is unprecedented.

On 10th February a massive rally in Patna culminated in Citizens Forum Against Asbestos submitting a memorandum seeking cancellation of industrial license given to the proposed asbestos based factory in Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur and other places where such plants are proposed. The official who met the delegation Mr Shamim Ahmed, Deputy Secretary, Bihar Government asked the delegation to meet the Bihar Health Minister to apprise him of the potential health hazards from the killer fibers of asbestos.

Earlier, on 9th February a delegation of Citizens Forum Against Asbestos met Dr Renu Kumari, Bihar's Industry & Disaster Management .

A Fact Finding visit to Chainpur-Bishunpur, Marwan, Muzaffarpur on 9th February took the testimonies of the women victims of police repression. These women were protesting against the asbestos plant in their village. The team comprised of BANI, a news Channel TV99 and noted journalist & author Pushpraj who were struck by the slogans of the children and adults celebrating Saraswati Puja. Instead of chanting religious slogans, they were shouting "Cancer Factory Band Karo" and "Balmukund Go Back" in front of the idol of the Goddess Sarswati. It appeared as if the Goddess is inspiring the villagers to protect themselves from the ticking time bomb called asbestos. The anger against the proposed hazardous plant by Balmukund Cement & Roofing Ltd is quite palpable. The villagers revealed that strange women from some public relations agency have been hired by the company to lure and seduce the villagers to change their views.

Asbestos becomes a hazard when microscopic fibre fragments become airborne and are inhaled which they always do. Due to their size and shape they can remain airborne for some time, and enter even the smallest air passages in the lungs where they embed in lung tissue. The fibres are highly resistant to removal by the lungs' natural cleaning processes.

BANI demands Bihar government should not to succumb to pressure from the likes of Clément Godbout, president of the asbestos lobby group that includes the Chrysotile Institute, Chrysotile Asbestos Products Manufacturers and Asbestos Information Centre. The uninformed reaction of the Bihar chapter of Confederation of Indian Industry and Bihar Chambers of Commerce in support of killer asbestos industry is a classic case of blind profit mongering at any human cost.

Residents and policymakers in Bihar must examine places in the houses and buildings where can asbestos be found.

Asbestos fibers are incredibly strong and have properties that make them resistant to heat. Many products are in use today that contain asbestos. Most of these are materials used in heat and acoustic insulation, fire proofing, and roofing and flooring. Although banned in 55 countries because safe and controlled use of asbestos of all kinds is impossible, many of the asbestos based products are still be in use. These include:

Notably, Australia and the UK have the highest rates of asbestos-related death in the world because of past exposure compelling them to ban this killer fiber. Bihar should avoid such a path of industrialization. These deaths take place because of the misinformation campaign of the asbestos industry. Asbestos, now banned in the Europe, kills up to 4000 people a year in the UK alone. In India, there is no agency to collect the data of these ongoing deaths because none of our medical colleges diagnose asbestos related diseases.

It must be noted that ten thousand US citizens die each year -- a rate approaching 30 deaths per day -- from diseases caused by asbestos, according to a detailed analysis of government mortality records and epidemiological studies by US based Environmental Working Group. Asbestos kills thousands more people than skin cancer each year, and nearly the number that are slain in assaults with firearms. It has been revealed that the suite of diseases linked to asbestos exposure overwhelmingly affect older men.

The state government must announce a policy and a programme to ban future use of asbestos and decontaminate the existing places where it is found.

BANI demands that to begin with state government must make State legislature buildings, courts, schools and hospitals asbestos free.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)/Asbestos Mukri Andolan, Mb: 09818089660, 07739308480

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