Even as the delivery of India’s second aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, has been pushed back towards the end of 2013 owing to repairs in the malfunctioning boiler section, activists and environmental advocacy groups have expressed concern over reported use of asbestos-based insulation in the warship.

Given the health hazards that asbestos poses and the fact that International Maritime Organisation (IMO), of which India is a member state since 1959, has banned installation of all types of asbestos-containing materials as of January 1, 2011, activists have expressed “shock and surprise” over India’s willingness to accept use of asbestos in the aircraft carrier’s insulation in the boiler section.

In a letter to Navy Chief Admiral D.K. Joshi, Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI) coordinator Mohit Gupta pointed out that IMO circular of 2011 was binding on all IMO member states.

“There cannot be any safe ‘controlled use’ of asbestos anywhere in the world, including in highly advanced industrialised countries and therefore over 50 countries have banned all uses of asbestos,” Mr. Gupta said in the letter sent last week.

He said that the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer and numerous bodies of physicians and health scientists have recognised the disastrous effects of asbestos on human health and called for its ban. As many as 55 countries have already banned its use and more are joining the fray. Read more