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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cancer Capital & Cancer Village - Kolkata and Periyavelai - Nagerkoil

Cancer Capital - Air Pollution:
Kolkata, not Delhi is the pollution capital of India: Study

Kolkata, May 28: Kolkata has upstaged Delhi as the air pollution capital of India, accounting for more deaths due to lung cancer and heart attack than the capital city.

More than 18 persons per one lakh people in Kolkata fall victim to lung cancer every year compared to the next highest 13 per one lakh in Delhi, according to environmental scientist and advisor of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI), Twisha Lahiri.

Not only lung cancer, cases of heart attack were also rising fast in the eastern metropolis, Lahiri said quoting a six-year survey conducted by the cancer institute.

She said incidents of heart attack were occurring more frequently in the city.

CNCI scientists maintain that more than seven in 10 people here suffer from various kinds of respiratory disorder, including children as well as elderly people.

Lahiri said roadside hawkers, shop owners, traffic policemen, auto-rickshaw drivers, rickshaw-pullers and others who spend long hours on the road were the most vulnerable.

Children mainly suffer from breathing difficulties like asthma while elderly people are victims of lung cancer, the scientists said.


Cancer Village - Mining Problems:

Radiation from sand mining causes this unthinkable effect on a village on the Southern India.
Reproductive failure, Brain Diseases, Cancer in various organs are the major effects of the sand mining.


Links:
Cancer Village
Tamil: Kungumam -
http://www.dinakaran.com/dncgibin/kungumam.asp?imge=2007/oct/25/33
English: Hindu -
Radiation affecting health of villagers
http://www.hindu.com/2007/10/14/stories/2007101453750300.htm


Nagercoil: Conservation of Nature Trust here has urged the Government to extend annual medical check-up for cancer, insurance cover and provision of radiation dosimeters for the benefit of fishermen in Kanyakumari district living in the localities of ‘high-radiation’ area.
Its chairman R.S. Lal Mohan said that a recent study revealed that radiation in the coastal sand was as high as 65,000 becquerel per kg in places such as Chinnavilai and Periavilai, where sand mining was rampant. In these villages, there were 17 cancer patients and 31 mentally ill people.
Radiation in Kooduthalai, another sand mining village, was as high as 95,000 becquerel per kg.
Here beta radiation was very high; it was more powerful than alpha radiation as it could travel more distance and penetrate the skin. “It is strange that sand extraction firms that remove the radioactive sand claim that they were removing the radiation even while bringing the underground radioactive sand to the surface.”
Radioactive sand — geological sediments accumulated over thousands of years — could be found at a depth of some feet.
“Minerals are needed for the industries. But it must be ensured that affected people get proper medical treatment. The problem with cancer is it is hereditary. Once chromosomal changes are caused by radiation, the effects are irreversible.”
An independent study by Dr. Lucy Forster and her team from Cambridge University found background radiation along the Kanyakumari coast to be high. Poor fisherfolk take part in the hazardous job of carrying radioactive sand because of their poverty. All along coast
The coastal belt of south Kerala from Chavara to Kanyakumari has a radiation level of up to 325 ream owing to presence of monazite. This and other rare metals have accumulated after getting swept by wind.
These rare metals originate from the Western Ghats and drained by rivers such as the Kodayar, the Kuzhithurai and the Valliyar.
The radiation was first noted by a German industrialist, Schomberg, in coir exported from Colachel. In those days, the coir industry was vibrant along Kanyakumari coast.
Mr. Lal Mohan has urged the Government to either ban sand mining in the coastal areas of the district or to provide security to the livelihood of fishermen.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gap Vows Action After Child Labor Report

Gap Promises Action After British Newspaper Finds Subcontractor in India Using Child Labor
LONDON (AP) -- Clothing retailer Gap Inc. said Sunday that it will convene all of its Indian suppliers to "forcefully reiterate" its prohibition on child labor after a British newspaper found children as young as 10 making Gap clothes at a sweatshop in New Delhi.ADVERTISEMENT The Observer newspaper quoted the children as saying they had been sold to the sweatshop by their families in Indian states such as Bihar and West Bengal and would not be allowed to leave until they had repaid that fee.
Some, working as long as 16 hours a day to hand-sew clothing, said they were not being paid because their employer said they were still trainees.
Gap said it first learned of the child labor allegations last week and discovered the sweatshop was being run by a subcontractor that a vendor had hired in violation of Gap's policies. The product made there will be destroyed so it cannot be sold in Gap stores, company spokesman Bill Chandler said.
"We appreciate that the media identified this subcontractor, and we acted swiftly in this situation," Chandler told The Associated Press on Sunday. "Under no circumstances is it acceptable for children to produce or work on garments."
The Observer quoted one boy identified only as Jivaj as saying that child employees who cried or did not work hard enough were hit with a rubber pipe or had oily cloths stuffed into their mouths.
The paper said the sweatshop, or "derelict industrial unit," that it found during its investigation in New Delhi was "smeared in filth, the corridors flowing with excrement from a flooded toilet."
The Observer printed a photograph of one of the child workers, and British Broadcasting Corp. television broadcast what it said was footage of the youngsters taken at the sweatshop by an unidentified German TV crew.
Gap did not immediately cut ties with the supplier it accused of improper subcontracting, but Chandler said the company was taking the breach of its child labor policies "extremely seriously."
"We're willing to end relationships with vendors when they don't meet our standards," he said.
The company requires its suppliers to guarantee that they will not use child labor to produce garments, Chandler said, and Gap stopped working with 23 factories last year over violations uncovered by its inspectors. The San Francisco-based company has 90 full-time inspectors who make unannounced visits around the world to ensure vendors are abiding by Gap's guidelines, he said.
Gap has about 2,000 suppliers worldwide, including about 200 in India, Chandler said.
The company plans to convene all of its suppliers in the India region at a summit in the coming weeks to "forcefully reiterate the prohibition on any child labor," he said.
Marka Hansen, president of Gap North America, said its prohibition of child labor is non-negotiable.
"While violations of our strict prohibition on child labor in factories that produce product for the company are extremely rare, we have called an urgent meeting with our suppliers in the region to reinforce our policies," Hansen said in a statement. "Gap Inc. has one of the industry's most comprehensive programs in place to fight for workers' rights overseas."
Besides its chain of Gap stores, the company also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic and operates more than 3,100 stores in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Ireland and Japan.

My View: Gap vows action - what type of action - I am not sure. Action can be jailing the sub-contractor and stoping the contract. Sub-contractor may have contacts and bribe someone and will be out in days. What Gap needs to do is regularly inspect such contractors. With their profit they can even hire trust worthy non-profit groups to inspect such contractors. Instead of spending money on the action in a useless way, they can support a school in one place where the harm was done. They can train students vocationally and select for them for their future operations. That way Gap will have some respect for what they have done indirectly to a society.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cell Phone Manufacturing

http://press.nokia.com/PR/200504/987787_5.html:

Nokia selects Chennai for manufacturing mobile devices in IndiaEspoo, Finland - Nokia today announced that it will set up a manufacturing facility for mobile devices at Chennai in India. The manufacturing unit in Chennai will be Nokia's tenth mobile device production facility globally. Nokia anticipates investing an estimated USD 100-150 million in the India production plant.

"Establishing a new factory in India is an important step in the continuous development of our global manufacturing network. We selected Chennai to be the location for the factory thanks to the availability of skilled labor, friendly business environment, support from the state government, good logistics connections and overall cost-efficiency," said Pekka Ala-Pietilä, President, Nokia.

Nokia's new facility in Chennai is in the state of Tamil Nadu in the southern part of India. The construction work at the site of the manufacturing unit will start in April and production is expected to begin in the first half of 2006. Nokia foresees ramping up the factory gradually and the work force reaching approximately 2,000 employees when production is full scale.

Mobile penetration in Asia Pacific is expected to be a major contributor to the global mobile subscriber base surpassing the two billion mark by the end of 2005. Therefore, India which is set at the heart of the region where mobile communications is growing rapidly was a natural location of choice for the new production facility.

In India, Nokia is the market leader in mobile devices. Nokia maintains sales, marketing, customer care, and research and development sites in the country. Nokia was recently recognized as the Brand of the year by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as well as the most respected consumer durables company by the BusinessWorld magazine.

About Nokia
Nokia is a world leader in mobile communications, driving the growth and sustainability of the broader mobility industry. Nokia connects people to each other and the information that matters to them with easy-to-use and innovative products like mobile phones, devices and solutions for imaging, games, media and businesses. Nokia provides equipment, solutions and services for network operators and corporations. www.nokia.com.
Nokia India's plant is being built by Leighton Contractors (India), a subsidiary of Leighton Holdings Ltd of Australia, a large project development and contracting group.
According to information available on Leighton Holdings' Web site, it was awarded the $35-million (about Rs 150 crore) contract to construct Nokia's plant. The work is scheduled for completion by February 2006.

ENVIRONMENTAL SIDE:
http://www.american.edu/TED/nokia.htm#r5

Mainly morals. There has been some discussion about the actual pollution effects of cellphones, yet a consensus about this is still lacking. One of the most in-depth studies about this was conducted by the Worldwatch Institute. in its State of the World 2000. See especially the section called "Harnessing Information Technologies for the Environment" by Molly O'Meara. Nonetheless, whether the promise of new information technology, including cell phones, is good or bad for the environment is still not known. The manufacturing processes of cellphones requires great deals of water and electricity, the devices themselves have for the most part not been designed to last long, yet information techonology also helps to detect and notice environmental problems as well as helps non-governmental organizations campaign against them more easily (26).
However, this is not directly relevant to the case study at hand. For more information, look at the State of the World 2000 report.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/04/technology/04nokia.html?n=Top%2FNews%2FBusiness%2FCompanies%2FNokia%20Corporation
Last May, an authoritative study of global competitiveness bounced Finland down from the top three to No. 8, countering other polls that gave Finland top marks for literacy, lack of corruption and care of the environment.
http://www.designophy.com/article.php?id=617
QUESTION Answered by Eero Miettinen on 05/21/2007:
Eero Miettinen is Group Design Director of Nokia Design.
Global environmental problems and the ecological effects of materials and technology are being discussed. How much of the resposibility should be the undertaken by designers in those issues?A designer is always responsible for his creations. Environmental and ecological approach should be taken care of in everything we do.
http://www.vientiluotto.net/Emattxt.html:

The History of the Environmental assessments in crediting and guaranteeingIn 1998, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland commissioned a study on "Environmental Assessment in Public Promotion of Exports and Investments to Developing Countries" (Tallskog et al. 1999) which revealed that Finnish export and investment support agencies did not have proper environmental and social impact assessment procedures nor acceptable information disclosure policies in place. Therefore, very little was known about the potential environmental and social impacts or risks of projects financed by the responsible agencies. The study only focused on the policies, procedures and guidelines of the export and investment support agencies but was not yet able to investigate their project portfolios nor the individual projects and their potential impacts. However, since the projects financed by export credits, guarantees and investment promotion funds often involve large investments in industrial production, machinery and infrastructure development, significant environmental and social impacts are likely. Some cases of severe environmental and social problems caused by e.g. forest industry sector projects for which Finnish export credits and guarantees have been granted have been brought to publicity by local and international NGOs.Banks and Fide did not have any environmental guidelines nor expertise to assess such things. None of the information on projects is disclosed exept for the decisions of the concessional credits as they fall under the Act of Publicity in the government funds. Finnfund has to assess its projects carefully and has relatively extensive guidelines but it too does not employ real environmental experts either. They disclose some information on made decisions.Finnvera and Finnish Export Credit have formulated their environmental guidelines according to OECD process. The environmental guidelines divide project applications in three categories A, B, and C like World Bank does. They demand an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report according to international standards from A, (covering forestry, mining, energy production, and such), an environmental assessment from B (minor projects such as equiptments) but not from C (i.e. telecommunications). However they do not intend to disclose this information though they claim to demand the consultion of all the local stakeholders. The actual EIA is subscribed by the applicant.Legal framework consists of the export guarantee act and degree and an act on special financial institutions.The export guarantee law was renewed in 2001. After the law came to effect 1.7.2001 the Ministry for Trade and Industry set a committee to solve the paradox of the new law calling for submiting under the Act of Publicity and at the same time respecting the bank secrecy in the publicity of the Environmental Impact Assessments. The committee made an compromise and supported the so called alternative 2 that the EIAs should be published after the guarantee decision and on the consent of the exporter. The committee report was then sent to a round for comments. Comments were asked mainly form the traditional stakeholders, but two NGOs got also the official request from the ministry to give comments. Some other NGOs made their statements also.Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, Friends of the Earth Finland, Finnish League for Human Rights, Nature League and Advisory Board for Relations with Development Countries all supported the alternative 1 on immediate disclosure of EIAs after they have arrived to Finnvera. The industry and other stakeholders supported alternative 3 of keeping the situation as it is now. No one supported the alternative 2 of the compromise. Now the ministry is waiting for a decision of the Supreme Adminsitrative Court where Finnvera has filed a complaint on the request of the information by the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.

CELL PHONE WASTE ISSUES:

http://www.recyclingforcharities.com/Environmental-Effects-of-E-Waste.php

E-Waste Poses a Very Real Environmental Threat –Recycling Your Wireless Cell Phones, PDA's, Pagers and Digital Cameras Can Help Protect the Earth
Studies have consistently shown that electronic waste from devices like mobile phones, PDA's and digital cameras contains toxins that are damaging to our environment.

Lead
Used primarily in soldering ofcircuit boards and other device components

Extremely harmful to the human body; damages both the central and peripheral nervous systems; can cause seizures, retardation, high blood pressure, damage to the kidneys and liver; adversely affects child development

Beryllium
Forms significant portions of electrical connectors and battery contacts
Long term exposure can be carcinogenic, especially for the lungs. Extreme exposure can lead to a potentially fatal condition known as Acute Beryllium Disease

Arsenic
Used in some integrated circuits and semiconductors
Arsenic is a notoriously potent poison; causes severe damage to the digestive tract

Mercury
Can be found to a degree in batteries and circuit boards
Attacks the central nervous and endocrine systems; harmful to mouth, teeth and gums; poses risk in the neurological development of unborn fetuses

Antimony
Used in production of diodesand batteries. Pure form usedin semiconductor production
Toxic to humans in ways similar to arsenic; fatal in large doses

CadmiumUsed in soldering, semiconductors and chip resistors
Potentially carcinogenic; Repeated exposure can damage the lungs, kidneys and liver