Himalayan Niti Abhiyan opposes proposed Cement Sheet plant in Sirmaur for heath hazards reasons

Environmental groups demand Asbestos Free Himachal and ban use and manufacture of asbestos products

Shimla/ April 23

Himalaya Niti Abhiyan and Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA) have demanded immediate stoppage of Delhi based Vardhman Roofings Private Ltd’s proposed lung cancer causing Asbestos Cement Sheet Plant at Kheri village of district Sirmaur.

Environmental groups also demanded that the state government should take step to make the state asbestos free because asbestos was banned in over 55 countries.

Himalayan Niti Abhiyan, Co- ordinator Guman Singh said that state government should take note of the notice sent by National Human Rights Commission in the matter of incurable asbestos related diseases on July 6, 2011 to the Chief Secretary of Himachal.

“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,” he said.

It has noted that “Asbestosis is yet another occupational disease of the Lungs which is on an increase under similar circumstances warranting concerted efforts of all stake holders to evolve strategies to curb this menace”. A concept paper by Union Ministry of Labour revealed this at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on “Occupational Safety and Health” on 19th and 20th September, 2011.

HNA demanded that state government should pay heed to World Health Assembly Resolution on cancer prevention that urges countries to pay special attention to cancers for which avoidable exposure is a factor, including exposure to chemicals at the workplace. In 2005, the World Health Assembly requested WHO to carry out a global campaign for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases.

HNA said that in view of the above; state government should take immediate and urgent steps to prevent environmental and occupational exposure to asbestos’ besides non-occupational exposures to asbestos. Asbestos related material like asbestos cement sheets, asbestos cement pressure pipes and joints, asbestos cement flat sheets, asbestos cement building boards, asbestos cement cable conduits and troughs etc must be phased out.

“Himachal Government ought to stop such hazardous plants to save residents of the state from incurable lung diseases. There should be a moratorium on asbestos based hazardous industries and steps should be taken to phase out asbestos use and take immediate steps to ban this killer fiber to save the present and future citizens of the state and the country,” HNA added.