by Laurie Kazan-Allen
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.”2Asbestos roofing is popular in regions such as Terai and was extensively used in the capital city, Kathmandu.
Welcoming Nepal’s 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. Read more