Asbestos Cement Industry(95% of the industry are makers of asbestos–cement roofing sheets, drinking water pipes) caters to a wide range of domestic and commercial requirements of the society at large. These products have been serving the Indian populace for over 70 years and has been growing at an annual rate of over 10% in the past few years because of increasing demand for these products – in spite of competition from alternate roofing and piping material.
However, backed and funded by competitors and antagonists in the form of NGOs, primarily emerging from the European Union with their tentacles reaching out to other continents, a controversy has been created spreading out a false and malicious message that asbestos and asbestos products are dangerous to public users and affect the health or workers in the ac industry.
They keep propagating that most of the world has banned asbestos. But the fact is, according to World Bank, only 44 countries have eliminated it (out of which 30 are from Europe itself). This constitutes only 20% of world nations. USA, Canada, Russia, Brazil, China, India, Vietnam and most other countries continue to avail of the benefits of asbestos-cement low cost, permanent roofing and pipes in water supply schemes.
It is important to mention that there were some health issues in the distant past in Western world, on account of UNCONTROLLED, UNREGULATED usage of a variety of asbestos fibres when scientific knowledge relating to asbestos and health was almost nil. After the scientific studies emerged, it was revealed in no uncertain terms that if onlychrysotile (white) asbestos is used in controlled conditions, there is absolutely no health risk to the workers in the ac factories or the general public who use the ac products. All the other forms of asbestos such as crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, actinolite, etc. have been banned all over the world. India too uses only Chrysotile variety – all of it imported from Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and Zimbabwe.
Several studies by the Ministry of Labour, Govt of India, in the last one decade, have shown that there was no excess risk with chrysotile asbestos usage. Consequently, the Government of India (through the Ministry of Environment & Forests) has been granting permission for expansion in existing ac companies and for setting up new facilities to meet the growing needs of these products In India. State Pollution Control Boards strictly monitor the working conditions to ensure the mandatory regulations are complied with.
India follows the pollution control regulations and levels laid down by various international and national agencies to prevent any asbestos-related-health problems.