Written By Unknown on Sunday, November 24, 2013 | 3:47 AM

Foreign Correspondents visit hazardous asbestos factory sites of Bhojpur & Vaishali



Bhojpur’s Bihiya based Ramco’s Asbestos factory violating BSPCB’s Guidelines on Battery Limit

Villagers demands closure of asbestos factories in Bihar

November 24, 2013: A team of foreign correspondents from broadcast and print visit hazardous asbestos factory sites of Bhojpur & Vaishali on November 21 and 22 in the aftermath of Patna High Court’s direction
dated October 28, 2013 asking Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) to take decision as per law. The Court’s order is attached. 

The team spoke to concerned principal secretaries of health, environment etc and a BSPCB official. BSPCB has rejected the report of CPCB on construction of asbestos factory in Vaishali.

In Vaishali, villagers in Rampur Rajdhari declared that they will not allow this hazardous asbestos based factory to be constructed on their fertile land at any cost.  They announced that they will lay down
their lives but will not allow the present and future generation to suffer from the incurable diseases like lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Govind Rai, former Mukhiya of the panchayat contended that
people’s verdict will reign supreme. Four villagers from the area including Asheshar Sharma, Ajit Kumar Singh had met the chief minister on February 13, 2013 along with a delegation of left leaders. They got
the assurance that the chief minister too was not in favour of such factories. The chief minister told them that he wanted such plants to be ‘punctured’. Despite complicity of central pollution control board with the Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL), the villagers expressed the hope that the State Government will save their public health and will not bow to the influence of the company.

The team visited the Bhojpur’s Giddha based asbestos factory in Koilwar block and Bihiya based asbestos factory of Ramco asbestos. It was noted that Giddha based asbestos factory has been shut down and
villagers are demanding its removal. Dadan Gupta, Sarpanch of Giddha sought safer factories in place of hazardous and cancer causing asbestos factories. It was noted that this factory of Tamil Nadu based
Nibhi Industries is violating BSPCB’s Guidelines on Battery Limit fixed to ensure that such factories are set up at least 500 meters away from human habitation, national and state highway. When some ten workers of the factory became sick and sought medical attention and compensation, the company has sacked them. This plant is situated behind Trident BEd College, Aryabhatt Knowledge University and adjacent to Ananya rice mill and Bihar College of education. The factory is flooded with unattended asbestos products and asbestos
wastes. Till recently the plant was being run by Utkal asbestos company. Since September 30, 2013, the factory has stopped its operations.

Tamil Nadu based Nibhi Industries Pvt. Ltd is establishing the 100, 000 MT Capacity Asbestos Fiber Cement Corrugated Sheet, Flat Sheet and Accessories and Light Weight Fly Ash Block Plant. This has been
approved in SIPB meeting on 19th October, 2009 with a total investment for of Rs 31 crore.

In response to a query under Right to Information Act, the BSPCB strangely replied that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the Giddha based asbestos plant is not available with the Board.
There is something quite dubious about this project. BSPCB had issued show cause notices to the plant in the past as is evident from its submission to the National Human Rights Commission and its replies to RTI application.

It was noted that Bhojpur’s Bihiya based Ramco’s asbestos factory is also violating BSPCB’s Guidelines on Battery Limit. It is situated within a distance of 100-300 meters of at least eight villages like Tipura The plant is located close to a very old Mahthin Mai temple. Some 55 workers are employed by the factory and some 150 workers are employed by a contractor for the factory. It was learnt that one worker, Barak Yadav of Mishrauliya village, Shahpur block, Bhojpur died while working at the asbestos factory of Ramco some 10-15 days back due to asbestos related illness. He is survived by his wife and five children. His widow was given a compensation of Rs 5, 000 as compensation.

Notably, Ramco Industries got a clearance to set up and run a 120, 000 MT/Annum capacity of Asbestos Cement Sheet Plant. But in violation of all the rules in the rule book it is running an additional Asbestos
Grinding Plant of 200, 000 MT/Annum capacity. The total project area is 20 acres and land is allotted by the state government on lease for 90 years. On May 10, 2010, the 120, 000 MT/Annum capacity project was
discussed by the Experts Appraisal Committee (EAC), Industry. In the minutes of the EAC, there explicit reference to "Health Management Plan for Mesothalimoa, Lung cancer and Asbestosis related problems in asbestos industries". The plant being established by Tamil Nadu based Ramco Industries Ltd. There is no reference to its 200, 000 MT/Annum capacity plant. Bihar's State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB) cleared its establishment on November 23, 2009 with a total investment of Rs 60.20 crore.

This is happening because of an incestuous relationship between ruling parties at the centre and foreign asbestos producers like Russia. Now that BSPCB has rejected the report of CPCB on construction of asbestos factory in Vaishali on the ground of violation of Battery Limit, the Board has no option but to order the closure of Ramco’s plant in Bihiya and seek removal of the asbestos plant from Giddha and ensure
its decontamination. (In photo: Babban Dube, an ex-worker of Giddha asbestos factory near an asbestos shade)

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731, E-mail:gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com, Web:www.toxicswatch.org

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