Bihar Human Rights Commission
Date: 3rd June, 2016
With due respect being an applicant before the Commission in the ongoing Case No. BHRC/Comp. 313/14 related to asbestos company in Bihiya, Bhojpur I wish to inform you about the illegal operation of an asbestos factory in Giddha, Koilwar, Bhojpur that has been reported in Aaj newspaper dated June 3, 2016 at page 2. The news clipping is attached. It may be recalled that in my complaint dated February 13, 2014 I had made submission about this Giddha based hazardous factory.
I submit that the villagers’ living in the vicinity of this hazardous factory face threat of lung related diseases contracted exposure from asbestos fibers that cause incurable diseases. This happens because safe and controlled use of white chrysotile asbestos like its other varieties is impossible which has led to more than 50 countries banning its use.
I submit that the January 27, 1995 and January 21, 2011 orders of Supreme Court make it clear that State Governments and Government of India have to comply with fresh ILO resolution of June 2006 on asbestos. ILO resolution is available at
I also wish to draw your attention towards Hon'ble Patna High Court’s observation dated August 19, 2013 in its order in Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No.9064 of 2013 saying, “...In the circumstances, this Court is really surprised with the stand of the State Board that the norms have been relaxed for the two other asbestos manufacturing units in operation from before, only on the ground that they are running in the respective industrial areas." These two units are the ones based in Giddha, Koilwar, Bhojpur and Bihiya, Bhojpur. It is a commentary on the inconsistency of the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB).
I submit that through a letter dated December 26, 2013, BSPCB has refused to extend the Consent to Establish (NOC) given to West Bengal based Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL)'s proposed asbestos based plant in Vaishali but it has remained silent about the asbestos plants in Bhojpur. That the cancellation of the proposed asbestos factory in Vaishali was done in pursuance of the assurance of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Government of Bihar to a delegation of anti-asbestos activists and political leaders that met him at his residence on February 13, 2013. Hon’ble Chief Minister promised that he will puncture such hazardous plants in the fertile land of Bihar. This has been done in Muzaffarpur and Vaishali but it remains to be followed in Bhojpur. While BSPCB has done the right thing by citing its battery limit of "a distance of minimum 500 meters from the National/State Highway, Railway line, river and human habitation" to outlaw the proposal of a asbestos company, the same should be applied to asbestos based toxic factories in Bhojpur. No amount of sophistry by the companies operating in Bhojpur and some officials in BSPCB can undermine the gnawing anxiety about risk and hazardous consequences underlined by WHO and ILO which has sought elimination of manufacturing and use of asbestos based products.
I submit that communities in villages around the hazardous industrial unit in Giddha cannot be expected to become superior risk bearers unlike villagers of Muzaffarpur and Vaishali where similar plants have been stopped.
I submit that when defending the indefensible asbestos factories becomes a compulsion of officialdom, disasters like the one witnessed in the Bhopal based factory of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC)'s hazardous pesticide plant become the order of the day. UCC was also in the asbestos business whose liability has been owned by its buyer US based Dow Chemicals Company and assigned $ 2.2 billion dollars for compensation fund to the victims in US where 10, 000 people are dying every year from asbestos related diseases.
I wish to draw your attention towards the attached order of Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KHRC) dated January 31, 2009 against use of asbestos. Its recommendations are: “a) The State Government will replace asbestos roofs of all school buildings under its control with country tiles in a phased manner. b) The Government will take steps to see that the schools run under the private management also replace the asbestos roofs with country tiles by fixing a time frame. c) The Government should see that in future no new school is allowed to commence its functions with asbestos roofs.”
I will be happy to share more information.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)