Note: Th role of media in Bihar in reporting the protest against two asbestos plants in Bihar's Bihiya in Bhojpur by Tamil Nadu based Ramco Industries near Mahatin Mai Temple and in Panapur, Vaishali by West Bengal based Utkal Asbestos Limited near a government run school in general has been unsatisfactory. The localisation of newspapers has ensured that what gets reported in Vaishali does not get reported in Bhojpur and vice versa.
There is a deafening silence about the proposed plants by Andhra Pradesh based Hyderabad Industries Ltd for establishment of 2,50,000 MT per year capacity Asbestos Cement Sheeting Plant in two Phases at Kumarbagh Industrial Area, West Champaran and by Rajasthan based A Infrastructure Ltd for establishment of 1, 25, 000 MT per year capacity Asbestos Cement (A.C.) Sheet and 1,00,000 MT per year capacity A.C. Pressure Pipe at Pandaul Industrial Area, Madhubani.
Besides these Tamil Nadu based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd’s has established 1,00,000 (One Lakh) MT Capacity Asbestos Fiber Cement Corrugated Sheet, Flat Sheet and Accessories and Light Weight Fly Ash Block Plant naming itself at Industrial Growth Centre, Giddha, Ara, Bhojpur behind Trident B-ed College. The faculty and the students who will study there will be under threat of asbestos exposure. This plant is now being run by Utkal Asbestos Limited on lease.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Villagers of Bihar’s Vaishali district took out a protest march in the State capital on Wednesday against an asbestos-based factory in Chaksultan Rampur Rajdhari.
Organised under the banner of Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jan Sangharsh Committee,they submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar demanding stoppage of work at the West Bengal-based company Utkal Asbestos. The villagers have been raising concerns of cancer and other health risks in light of the hazardous factory. Last June the district administration stayed the construction of the factory. However, work on the facility started again in December.
“In India, mining of asbestos is technically banned but its import from other countries is yet to be banned. Trade in asbestos (dust and fibers) is also banned. In the absence of environmental and occupational health infrastructure, the passivity of the State governments cannot be deemed acceptable given the fact that health is a State subject. The Bihar Government should take immediate steps to set a healthy precedent for all the other states, the Central Government and neighbouring countries,” a Press release stated.
January 17, 2013