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Plenary Session 3
Friday 19, November, 2004
17:00 - 19:30, International Conference Hall

Plenary Session 3
Empowerment of Victims and Their Families
Chairs: Natori Yuji and Annie Debaud-Mony

Plight of Asbestos Victims in India
Gopal Krishna
Ban Asbestos Network of India-Toxics Link


While the developed world is drastically reducing the manufacture and use of Asbestos, in India it is being promoted indiscriminately by stating that controlled use of Asbestos is absolutely safe. There are more than 100,000 more victims of asbestos. This menace has occurred only because India unsuccessfully is trying to introduce Control use of Asbestos possibleEissue.
Current status of victims
It is surprising to note that in spite of such large number of asbestos related victims, wherever asbestos is being used, there are almost no cases of compensation of these victims which as per the law is mandatory. The workers disease remain undiagnosed or their medical reports are suppressed and the asbestos promoters thus escape unharmed.
Due to ignorance of common people and especially the asbestos industry workers the asbestos related diseases are spreading fast. It has been revealed during surveys and studies that:
  1. Most of the workers were suffering from asbestos related diseases like Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, and Lung Cancer.
  2. No health records had been kept over the years.
  3. If any worker was found to suffer from any of the diseases, he was either discharged from service with small cash compensation or his health record is manipulated to show him as a healthy person.
Conclusion and Recommendation
The Government or the Court should ask the manufacturers of asbestos products to produce medical record of all the 10,0000 workers for the last 30 years in keeping with apex court's direction Do Maintain and keep maintaining the health record of every worker upto a minimum period of 40 years from the beginning of the employment or 15 years after retirement or cessation of the employment, whichever is later.
Resort to political and policy intervention with the help of trade unions given their mandate to safeguard worker's health against occupational hazards.
What is required is a judicial or executive order to the effect that subjecting any human being to asbestos is a human rights violations.
The issue of liability both under Criminal laws and Torts needs to be taken up and using the arguments of both the countries which have banned asbestos and WTO ruling on the killer fiber immediate ban on import of asbestos from Canada be imposed.