Despite all the health warnings and the ever growing stats available on the health risks associated with asbestos, today, India is still one of the biggest importers of asbestos in the world.
While activists in India try to raise awareness on the dangers of asbestos, the government has not got involved, instead they seem to be rather tolerant of its use based on what New Delhi declared at the UN meeting in Geneva last month:
“There is "no proof" that India's asbestos factories or their products - used mainly in low-cost housing - are unsafe.”
India’s official in charge with hazardous materials and chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board said in the same meeting that he had commissioned a study into the ‘possible health effects’, studies which he said will take up to two years to complete.
It doesn’t’ help that at the same UN meeting in Geneva, Russia, which is one of the biggest asbestos exporters, vetoed the addition of chrysotile (the white asbestos) onto a list of dangerous substances.
Asbestos use is banned in most Western countries, including in all EU member states. The WHO believe it is responsible for 107,000 death annually, but asbestos is still in common use in the developing world and in India, the asbestos industry is estimated to be worth $1.4 billion.