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Violation of Environmental Clearance conditions by asbestos based factory at Giddha, Koilwar, Bhojpur

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, June 04, 2016 | 7:08 AM




To

Dr Chhavi Nath Pandey
Chairperson,
Experts Appraisal Committee on Industrial Projects-I, 
Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Indira Paryavaran Bhavan
Jorbagh Road
New Delhi-110003
Date: 4th June, 2016

Subject- Violation of Environmental Clearance conditions by asbestos based factory of Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd at Giddha, Koilwar, Bhojpur, Bihar  

Sir,

This is to draw your urgent attention towards 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.

I submit that the Environmental Clearance [F. No. J-11011/312/2009- IA II (I)] for Proposal No : IA/BR/IND/4148/2010 granted to Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd by the Ministry of Environment and Forests under the provisions of EIA Notification dated 14th September, 2006 is subject to strict compliance of the following specific and general conditions. The Date of apply for TOR  is 20th January, 2010, Date of TOR Granted is 7th July, 2009 and the Date of EC Granted is 27th February, 2010.
The specific conditions given required “Regular medical examination of the workers and health monitoring of all the employees shall be carried out and if cases of asbestosis are detected, necessary compensation shall be arranged under the existing laws. A competent occupational health physician shall be appointed to carry out medical surveillance. Occupational health of all the workers shall be monitored for lung function test, chest x-ray, sputum for acid-fast-bacilli (AFC) and asbestos body (AB), urine for sugar and albumen, blot tests for TLC, DLC, ESR, Hb and records maintained for at least 40 years from the beginning of the employment or 15 years after the retirement or cessation of employment whichever is later. Occupational Health Surveillance shall be carried out as per the directives of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.” The copy of the Environmental Clearance is attached. The company in question has not complied with the “directives of the Hon’ble Supreme Court” as stated in the specific conditions.   
I submit that in contempt of Hon’ble Supreme Court's order dated January 27, 1995, the Nibhi Industries has not been maintaining and maintaining the health record of every worker, nor has it been conducting Membrane Filter test to detect asbestos fibre. It has not been insuring health coverage to every worker. It is reliably learnt that the company did not have qualified occupational health doctors to undertake these tasks. This order was reiterated on 21st January, 2011 by the Court. It has been referred to by Hon’ble Patna High Court as well in Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No.9064 of 2013 and related cases.

I submit that the specific conditions asked the company “To educate the workers, all the work places where asbestos dust may cause a hazard shall be clearly indicated as a dust exposure area through the use of display signs which identifies the hazard and the associated health effects.” This condition too has been violated.  

I submit that the specific conditions reads: “The company shall provide housing for construction labour within the site with all necessary infrastructure and facilities such as fuel for cooking, mobile toilets, mobile STP, safe drinking water, medical health care, crèche etc. The housing may be in the form of temporary structures to be removed after the completion of the project.” This condition has been violated as well.   

This news report reveals that although the factory was sealed by the district administration amidst violations of environmental laws and disregard towards public health, the company disregarded the order of the district administration and chose to operate the factory in violation of every rule in the rulebook.  

I submit that one worker was crushed to death in this factory in June 2013. The EAC ought to seek report about it from the district administration. This factory at Giddha, Koilwar, Bhojpur, Bihar is in proximity of human habitation and is exactly behind Trident BEd College. This plant also violates the environmental and industrial siting guidelines of Bihar State Pollution Control Board. It may be noted that Paryawaran Bachao Jeewan Bachao Sangharsh Morcha, Paryawaran Swasthya Suraksha Samiti and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) have been raising the issue of hazards from such hazardous factories in the interest of public health. It may be noted that written submissions have been submitted to District Collector seeking removal of the plant.

I submit that although environmental clearance given by Experts Appraisal Committee-Industrial Projects-I, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests and No Objection Certificate given by Bihar State Pollution Control Board is not transferrable, Nibhi company had transferred it to Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL) for operating the plant. This is clearly in violation of established rules.  

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 district administration may be asked to submit the health records of all the workers who are working in this factory. The company should be asked for a list of workers employed in the factory, their health records and the qualification of the doctor assigned to undertake their health checkup. It is important to order a health survey of the villagers who live in the vicinity of this hazardous factory. The educational institutions like teachers’ training institutes also need to be surveyed in this regard. This is necessary because both World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) have recommended total elimination of its mining, manufacturing and use. WHO document is attached. It may be noted that mining of asbestos is technically banned in India but the asbestos based factories procure raw asbestos mineral fiber from countries like Russia. It is one of the pernicious and residual legacies of the old era.

I submit that the 27th January, 1995 and 21st January, 2011 orders of Hon’ble 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
 
The issue in question is concerned the human rights of the present and future generations. In fact in the Hon’ble Supreme Court's judgment of January 27, 1995 in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 206 of 1986 [CERC Vs Union of India] that dealt with asbestos exposure, right to health was declared as part of fundamental right to life. As per Court's judgment of 27th January, 1995 in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 206 of 1986 which was reiterated on 21st January, 2011, the health records of workers have to be maintained for 40 years and for 15 years after the retirement. The judgment also stipulates compensation for such workers who suffer from asbestos related diseases.

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).

In the light of the observation of the Hon’ble High Court it is abundantly that Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) is adopting double standards in the matter of cancellation of Consent to Establish-cum- No Objection Certificate (NOC) given to asbestos companies in Bhojpur and Vaishali. The two companies -namely, Tamil Nadu based Ramco Industries and Nibhi Industries -mentioned by the Court are located in Bihiya and Giddha, Koilwar of Bhojpur district. BSPCB has cancelled the NOC of West Bengal based Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL)'s proposed asbestos based plant in Vaishali for violating environmental and industrial siting guidelines of 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. 

I submit that BSPCB’s battery limit of "a distance of minimum 500 meters from the National/State Highway, Railway line, river and human habitation" outlaw the proposal of a asbestos company, the same should be applied to asbestos based toxic factories in Bhojpur.

I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “The project authorities must strictly adhere to the stipulations made by the Bihar Pollution Control Board (BPCB) and the State Government.” The stipulation regarding battery limit has been violated.

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 the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “The gaseous emissions from various process units shall conform to the load/mass based standards notified by this Ministry on 19th May, 1993 and standards prescribed from time to time. The BPCB may specify more stringent standards for the relevant parameters keeping in view the nature of the industry and its size and location. At no time, the emission level shall go beyond the prescribed standards. On-line continuous monitoring system shall be installed in stacks to monitor SPM and interlocking facilities shall be provided so that process can be automatically stopped in case emission level exceeds the limit.” This condition has not been complied with. 
I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “At least four ambient air quality monitoring stations shall be established in the downward direction as well as where maximum ground level concentration of SPM, SO2 and NOX are anticipated in consultation with the Bihar PCB.  Data on ambient air quality and stack emission shall be regularly submitted to this Ministry including its Regional Office at Bhubaneswar / BPCB and CPCB once in six months.” This condition has not been adhered to by this factory.  
I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “Industrial wastewater shall be properly collected and treated so as to conform to the standards prescribed under GSR 422 (E) dated 19th May, 1993 and 31st December, 1993 or as amended form time to time.  The treated wastewater shall be utilized for plantation purpose.” There is nothing on record to show that the company in question has complied with this condition.

I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “All the measures regarding occupational health surveillance of the workers shall be undertaken and regular medical examination of all the employees shall be ensured as per the Factories Act and records maintained.” The factory has not followed this condition.

I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “The company must undertake socio-economic development activities in the surrounding villages like community development programs, educational programs, drinking water supply and health care etc.” This condition has not been paid heed to.
I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “As proposed, Rs. 1.01 Crores and Rs. 5.72 Lakhs shall be earmarked towards capital cost and recurring cost/annum for environmental pollution control measures and judiciously used to implement the conditions stipulated by the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as the State Government. An implementation schedule for implementing all the conditions stipulated herein shall be submitted to the Ministry and its Regional Office at Bhubaneswar.  The funds so provided shall not be diverted for any other purpose.” There is no information in public domain to demonstrate that this has been done.   
I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “A copy of clearance letter shall be sent by the proponent to concerned Panchayat, Zila Parishad / Municipal Corporation, Urban Local Body and the local NGO, if any, from whom suggestions / representations, if any, were received while processing the proposal. The clearance letter shall also be put on the web site of the company by the proponent.” This was not done. The news report dated 3rd June, 2016 underlines that the local Sarpanch of Giddha Panchayat inspected the factory jointly with a revenue official.   
I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “The project proponent shall upload the status of compliance of the stipulated environment clearance conditions, including results of monitored data on their website and shall update the same periodically.  It shall simultaneously be sent to the Regional Office of the MOEF, the respective Zonal Office of CPCB and the BPCB.  The criteria pollutant levels namely; SPM, RSPM, SO2, NOx (ambient levels as well as stack emissions) or critical sectoral parameters, indicated for the projects shall be monitored and displayed at a convenient location near the main gate of the company in the public domain.” This condition has been violated. 
I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “The project proponent shall also submit six monthly reports on the status of the compliance of the stipulated environmental conditions including results of monitored data (both in hard copies as well as by e-mail) to the Regional Office of MOEF at Bhubaneswar, the respective Zonal Office of CPCB and the BPCB. The Regional Office of this Ministry at Bhubaneswar / CPCB / BPCB shall monitor the stipulated conditions.” This condition has been ignored by the company.
I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance certificate states: “The environmental statement for each financial year ending 31st March in Form-V as is mandated to be submitted by the project proponent to the concerned State Pollution Control Board as prescribed under the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, as amended subsequently, shall also be put on the website of the company alongwith the status of compliance of environmental conditions and shall also be sent to the respective Regional Offices of the MOEF by e-mail.” This has not been done.  
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 seek replacement of asbestos roofs of all school buildings under its control with country tiles in a phased manner. It seeks steps to see that the schools run under the private management also replace the asbestos roofs with country tiles by fixing a time frame. It seen to ensure that in future no new school is allowed to commence its functions with asbestos roofs. It is relevant to note that in Case No.693/30/97-98, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) ordered, “Replace the asbestos sheets roofing with roofing made up of some other material that would not be harmful to inmates.” It is evident that the NHRC considers asbestos sheets as harmful. It may be noted that NHRC is seized with a case regarding adverse impacts of asbestos and compliance with Hon’ble Supreme Court’s orders in this regard.  
It is relevant to note that in a letter dated 25th February, 2013, the company informed the Principal Secretary, Bihar Government that Date of Commercial Production was received vide letter no. 619, dated 7th May, 2012 and sought incentive/subsidy for itself under new Industrial Policy 2011. The  Principal  Secretary, Industries Department rejected  the  claims  citing Clause  2.2  of  the  Resolution  No.128  dated  16th January, 2006. Even as the company continued to violate the specific and general conditions stipulated in the Environmental Clearance certificate besides violating the BSPCB’s Guidelines, it filed Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case (CWJC) No.16099 of 2014 and CWJC-10908/2015 to get subsidy from the State Government.  
I submit that the General Conditions given in the Environmental Clearance (EC) certificate to Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd categorically states: “The Ministry may revoke or suspend the clearance, if implementation of any of the above conditions is not satisfactory.”

In view of the above facts underlining the violation of the conditions of EC, there is a compelling logic for revoking the environmental conditions granted to this factory. This is required for providing relief to the workers of the asbestos based factory in question and save the villagers of Koilwar block in Bhojpur, Bihar from such hazardous plants. The company must be asked to undertake decontamination of the site and compensation for exposing the villagers of Giddha to asbestos fibers in the interest of present and future generations. 

I will be happy to share more information.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Dr Gopal Krishna
Director
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731
E-mail:1715krishna@gmail.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.org

Cc
Dr.Satish C.Garkoti, Member Secretary, EAC (Industry-I)
Hon’ble Members, EAC (Industrial Projects-I)
Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar
Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)
Member Secretary, CPCB
Principal Secretary, Department of Industries, Government of Bihar
Principal Secretary, Department of Environment, Government of Bihar   
Chairman, Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB)
Member Secretary, BSPCB
District Magistrate, Bhojpur, Bihar    
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