The Indian asbestos-cement (AC) industry comprises of AC roofing sheet production ( 90% ) and AC Pipe production (10%). This industry, with an annual turnover of Rs.4,500 crores contributes about Rs. 800 crores to the State exchequer. It employs over 1,00,000 people directly and over 2,00,000 people indirectly. From a modest beginning 75 years ago, the current estimated annual production is 4.2 million tons of AC sheets and pipes in the organized sector.
In the recent years, the AC sheet production has been rising at the rate of over 10% each year. This reflects the demand for these products which are economically and durability-wise much more beneficial than the other alternatives such as GI Sheets, Galvalume Sheets, PVC Pipes, Steel Pipes, Ductile Iron Pipes, etc. etc.
So, why is there a negative propaganda and emergence of a band of anti-asbestos activists whose sole aim is to get a ban on asbestos and elimination of asbestos based products? And who gets benefitted if the AC sheet and pipe industry is eliminated?
A combination of vested commercial interests and ignorance of facts is the cause for this propaganda. If asbestos cement products are banned, the Metal and Man Made Fibre industries will sell an additional 4.2 million tons of their products (by taking over the AC sheet business). In fact the figure will be larger as the weight per sq mtr of metal products is more than AC products. When you consider a global ban on AC products, the gain for competing industries will be multi multifold.
To achieve their goal of removing asbestos products from the world, these alternative product industries, have been, through the created NGOs, such as International Ban Asbestos Secretariat, Indian Ban Asbestos Network, and other associated, affiliated individuals, spreading misleading information – claiming that asbestos was one of the most dangerous substances in the world – When you ask for evidence of health problems, in the recent years, country-wise or sector-wise, these anti asbestos activists (AAAs) have no tangible answer.
Regardless of the synergies and unrelenting campaigns by the AAAs, the Govt of India, having obviously been convinced that AC production can be maintained in complete safety with due precautions, is allowing the industry to grow to serve the needs of the country. The GOI’s response is the last word on the subject.