Shankar Dattaray Jog, a former worker at a factory owned by the British asbestos conglomerate Turner & Newall Ltd. in Mumbai, India, died from asbestos cancer on July 19, 2016. Mr. Jog had been employed at the Hindustan Ferodo brake linings factory for forty years commencing his employment in 1961 in the maintenance department. By the time he retired in 2001, he had risen to the position of health inspector.
On July 21, 2016, the news finally came. Italy’s Constitutional Court issued its ruling in the long-running battle to achieve justice for Italy’s asbestos victims.1 The verdict was categorical – a second round of proceedings (Eternit BIS) against Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny could go ahead.2 The fact that the defendant had already been tried over asbestos deaths of Italian citizens did not prevent him from facing additional charges. “It is clear,” the Constitutional Court’s verdict stated “that even from the strictly material point of view, the death of a person, although occasioned by the same conduct, gives rise to a new event, and therefore an act other than the death of other people.”
On 18 and 19 May 2016, Bonn, Germany hosted the WHO international meeting on the economic health costs and impacts that the past and present use of asbestos has on society. Participants were representatives of 13 countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan and Ukraine – and experts from international organizations and research institutes.
Environmental protection agencies across the world are pushing for a complete ban on usage of asbestos in auto parts. But India’s environment ministry has claimed to be unaware of the problem, in absence of any specific study on the issue.
A high incidence of asbestos-related disease has been recorded amongst military and civilian workforces at shipyards in England, Scotland, Italy, Japan, the U.S. and many other countries.1 In the 1898 annual report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops, clear warnings were given regarding the “abundant evidence” about the “evil effects of [asbestos] dust” by Lucy Deane, one of the country’s first female factory inspectors.
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