NHRC notices to states, Ministries on banning use of asbestos

New Delhi: The NHRC on Wednesday issued notices on banning the use of white asbestos, to all states and territories along with several Union Ministries and asked them to file a status report on it within four weeks.

The National Human Rights Commission`s action came as it took cognisance of a complaint alleging that around 50,000 people die every year in the country due to asbestos related cancer.

The complainant Gopal Krishna of `Toxics Watch Alliance` sought NHRC`s intervention for a ban on the use of Chrysotile Asbestos known as white asbestos, which is hazardous for the health and causes various incurable diseases.

In his complaint, Krishna cited contradictory position of the government on the issue and alleged that though mining of asbestos has been technically banned by the government, the government allows its import and that too from the countries which do not prefer its domestic use.

The complainant has also requested for grant of a compensation package for present and future victims of asbestos related diseases.

The NHRC issued notices to secretaries of Ministries of Chemical Fertilizers, Environment and Forest, Health and Family Welfare, Industry and Commerce, Labour and Chief Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories, calling for status reports within four weeks, a spokesperson said.

The white asbestos is a fibrous material used for building roofs and walls. The complainant claimed that white asbestos is considered a hazardous chemical substance for environment by a number of countries in the world. However, it is being used in a number of industries in India, affecting the workers employed.

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