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Pollution Control Board defends cancellation of NOC given to asbestos company in High Court

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, July 18, 2013 | 6:36 AM


Pollution Control Board defends cancellation of NOC given to asbestos company in High Court  

Corruption in grant of NOC to asbestos plants in Bhojpur's Giddha and Bihiya merits probe  

Patna: Defending the cancellation of Consent to Establish (NOC) given to Utkal asbestos company in the Patna High Court on July 18, 2013 in the CWJC 9064/2013, Shivendra Kishor counsel for the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) provided sufficient evidence to show that the Chairman, BSPCB does have the power to cancel its No Objection Certificate (NOC) has been debunked through the affidavit of the Board submitted to this Hon’ble Court. In any case NOC of the company has admittedly expired on May 7, 2013.

The BSPCB has stated that “The Board has delegated powers to the Chairman with the Authority to grant/refuse/withdraw/consent both in respect of the Water & Air Acts subject to the condition that the list of consent applications granted/refused/withdrawn is placed in the meeting of the Board.” It further contends that “unless the petitioner (the company) conforms to the siting criteria of the Board’s Guidelines, question of consideration of application for its renewal on its own does not arise”. 

That Hon’ble Supreme Court has examined the carcinogenicity of “ASBESTOS (mesothelioma and lung cancer)” in the Consumer Education & Research Centre  Vs Union Of India & Others on 27 January, 1995 and observed that “While pulmonary fibrosis due to exposure to asbestos (asbestosis) has been known for decades, the first reports of individual cases of asbestosis combined with pulmonary cancer which appeared from time to time in various countries were accepted more as a curiosity. They Id not attract much attention untill in 1947 a British Chief Inspector of Factories, E.R.A. Merewether, reported that lung cancer was found to be the cause of death in 13.2% of persons known to have asbestosis who had died and been autopsied between 1923 and 1946. A similar high proportion of cancer deaths in asbestosis was found by other pathologists and the probability of a role of asbestos in pulmonary carcinogenesis was definitely established by an epidemiological study by Doll in 1955, and confirmed by further studies. Soon afterwards a new surprising discovery was made in South Africa."

"An accumulation of cases of an otherwise very rare tumour of the pleura and peritoneum, the malignant mesothelioma, was reported by Wagner in 1959 and related to exposure to the locally mined type of asbestos, crocidolite. Soon afterwards cases were identified in non-mining occu- pational exposures to asbestos in England, in the United States and elsewhere. In contrast with asbestosis, and in contrast with asbestos-related pulmonary cancer, mesothelioma was found also in persons whose exposure was not necessarily occupational.  Bronchogenic carcinoma related to asbestos: - Bronchogenic carcinoma of the lung.There is a disease very in the general population. While in many countries the total mortality from cancer slowely declines, the incidence and mortality from lung cancer increases and stands as the most frequent cause of death from cancer, particularly in cigarette smokers. It begins with transformation of the mucous membrane lining the inside of the bronchus at various level and such foci of transformation may remain at their initial spot for some time shedding at times atypical or metaplastic cells into the sputum without causing other symptoms. This is the period in which we sometimes may succeed in discovering these pre-cancerous, or the earliest cancerous, changes by sputum cytology sooner than by other diagnostic methods."

"Some of such early alterations of cells is reversible and may spontaneously heal when the cause disappears, e.g. when the person stops smoking. When the original focus develops definite cancer cells, the focus begins to grow, to bleed and slowly to obstruct the way, a growing malignant tumour becomes visible on the radiogram and unless it can be surgically removed as soon as confirmed, it tends to spread through growth and through dissemination by blood and by lymph and to lead eventually to death. Supporting treatment by chemotherapy and radiation successfully prolongs life and radical surgery can provide complete healing.”

The various components of the bronchial lining may undergo malignant transformation and consequently the carcinoma may be composed of various cells and have various histological appearances such as adenocar-cinoma or squamous, or oat-cell carcinoma. There are no histological or other characterstics winch would specify the individual lung cancer as cancer caused by asbestos. In many cases of asbestos-linked pulmonary cancers the lungs also show pulmonary fibrosis-asbestosis microscopically, and often macroscopically, and on x-ray. examination. Some scientists believe that so-called "asbestos lung cancer" can only develop on a pathologically changed terrain of asbestotic fibrosis. There is evidence of such a possibility in human pathology: the scar-carci- noma. Others believe that exposure to. asbestos alone, particularly in a smoker, may provoke cancerous growth without also causing asbestosis. The decision between the two opinions is difficult to reach because in individual clinical cases of bronchogenic carcinoma we cannot dis- tinguish what is an "asbestos cancer", a "ciprette cancer" or lung cancer from yet another cause. Thus, in most coun- tries bronchogenic carcinoma is considered an occupational disease due to asbestos, e.g. for workmen's compensation, only in the presence of coexisting asbestosis. If pulmonary fibrosis were a prerequisite for development of asbestos- linked lung cancer, it would follow that lowering exposures to asbestos to levels which effectively prevent asbestosis would automatically eliminate "asbestos lung cancer". “

The Supreme Court has observed, “In man the link of lung cancer with asbestos has been mainly epidemiological. while asbestosis cannot occur without exposure to asbestos mad consequently every case of asbestosis must be linked with such exposure, with pulmonary cancer the situation is quite different. It is a rather common disease in the general population. The link with exposure to asbestos is based on finding whether in those exposed to asbestos is based on finding whether in those exposed to asbestos bang cancer occurs more frequently than in those unexposed, i.e. whether in those exposed there is an excess incidence of lung cancers.”(1995 AIR 922, 1995 SCC (3) 42)
That the notification under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 with regard to delegation of power to Chairman, State Pollution Control Board dated April 10, 2001 reveals that the Chairman does have the power which has incorrectly been challenged by the company. This is because asbestos is listed as a hazardous chemical under Part II of Schedule-I of the Manufacture, Storage and import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 provides the List of Hazardous and Toxic Chemicals. This list has 429 chemicals. Asbestos is at the serial no. 28 in the list. This Rule and the list is available on the website of Union Ministry of Environment & Forests. Its URL  is: http://envfor.nic.in/legis/hsm/hsm2.html and http://envfor.nic.in/legis/hsm/hsm2sch1.html 

The questionable legal status of the proposed setting up of a hazardous asbestos factory in the fertile agricultural land of Vaishali’s Chaksultan Rampur Rajdhari near Panapur in Kanhauli Dhanraj Panchayat in Goraul block by Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL) Industries Ltd has been underlined by BSPCB’s Inspection Report and the subsequent order of the Chairman, BSPCB  for the cancellation of the Consent to Establish (NOC) which has been submitted to this Hon’ble Court.

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) demands probe in grant of NOC to Bhojpur’s asbestos plants in Giddha and Bihiya merits probe in view of the recent development.
In a related development Union Ministry of Urban Development’s Delhi Schedule of Rates published by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) Schedule of Rates was first compiled in the year 1931 has provides a list of non-asbestos building materials.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 8227816731, 09818089660, E-mail: gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com 

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