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Although the media is focused on the health impact of asbestos on the workers who would dismantle Le Clemenceau, here is the bigger picture: India imported Rs 22.7 crore and Rs 32.8 crore worth of fabricated asbestos fibres and asbestos friction materials in 2003-04 and 2004-05, respectively. The occupational health impact of both these materials is very similar to that of the structural asbestos in Le Clemenceau. More facts: In 2004-05, France sold 109 tonnes of asbestos brake lining and pads to India, while its use is banned in industrialised countries including France.

The noise over the highly toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (pcbs) waste that would come out of Le Clemenceau seems like an overreaction if you compare it to the fact that in 2003-04, France exported 20 tonnes of pcbs, polybrominated biphenyls (pbbs) and polychlorinated terphenyls (pcts) to India.

The use, import and export of some of these chemicals, known as persistent organic pollutants, is banned under the Stockholm Convention. In 2003-04, India imported 5.25 tonnes of goods under the Indian trade classification number (hs number) 38249036. These cover "goods of a kind known as hazardous waste'.

The database maintained by the Union ministry of commerce records with tremendous diligence the country imports large amounts of waste that is clearly hazardous. This waste