Progress on Asbestos Ban in Nepal!
On December 22, 2014, the Government of Nepal banned the import, sale, distribution and use of all asbestos and asbestos-containing materials on the grounds of public health.1 According to a government notice published in the Nepal Gazette by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, the prohibition will take effect on June 20, 2015, 181 days from the date of publication; the sole exemption is for automotive brake shoes and clutch plates. These prohibitions will drastically reduce national consumption as the vast majority of asbestos used in Nepal goes into construction materials such as roofing sheets. Commenting on the ban, Jaya Ram Lamichhane, former President of the Federation of Contractors Association (Nepal), confirmed that: Asbestos is largely used in roofing in Nepal and is mostly used in traditional buildings.2 Asbestos roofing is popular in regions such as Terai and was extensively used in the capital city, Kathmandu.
Welcoming Nepals new policy on asbestos Ram Charitra Sah, Executive Director of the non-governmental organization The Centre for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED), urged the government to effectively implement the health and environment-friendly decision. Mr. Sah highlighted the health hazard caused by the dumping of asbestos waste saying: The only reliable source of drinking water for Nepalese citizens is the ground water which is likely to be contaminated by the haphazard dumping of asbestos waste. Since 2012, the CEPHED has been actively working to raise awareness in Nepal of the asbestos hazard and has documented widespread use and dumping of contaminated products.
Import of asbestos sheets to Terai (photo courtesy of R.C.Sah).
Asbestos roofing in Janapur school (photo courtesy of R.C.Sah).
Asbestos waste dumped at Maitighar Mandala, Kathmandu (photo courtesy of R.C.Sah).
Having recognized the praiseworthy, timely and visionary [action] taken by the Government, the CEPHED also urged that measures be adopted to: locate and quantify asbestos-containing products in the built environment; raise public awareness of the health consequences of asbestos exposures; implement an environmentally sound policy for the management of asbestos waste.3
January 1, 2015
1 Govt bans import, use of asbestos. December 25, 2014.
2 Government bans import sale use and distribution of asbestos. December 25, 2014.
3Press release by the Centre for Public Health and Environmental Development. Government Banned Import, Sale, Distribution and Use of Carcinogenic Asbestos. December 24, 2014.