Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vaishali villagers hold Mahadharana against white asbestos plant


Shri Navin Kumar
Chief Secretary
Government of Bihar

Date 15/6/2012

Subject- Vaishali villagers hold Mahadharana against white asbestos plant


This is with reference to the Mahadarna of villagers of Vaishali’s Chaksultan Rampur Rajdhari near Panapur in Kanhauli Dhanraj Panchayat of in Goraul block held a Mahadharana against the proposed white asbestos plant of Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL) company in their village on June 14. White asbestos also called chrysotile asbestos is banned in 55 countries.

On behalf of ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), I have visited the plant site. I wish to inform you that villagers have been protesting against this lung cancer causing hazardous plant under the banner of Khet Bachao Jeevan Bachao Jan Sangarsh Committee (KBJBJC) for the last 2 years. Local officials like BDO and SDO informed the villagers about Shri Jitendra Srivastva, new DM’s assurance that the administration will examine the concerns of the villagers and would do the needful. The attached petition of the KBJBJC addressed to Deputy Chief Minister, DM and SDO was submitted to the offi The petition demands immediate stoppage of work at the UAL’s plant.

I submit that the role of local officials who overlooked the plant’s faulty Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report and misrepresented facts about the location of the plant merit an inquiry.

I wish to inform you that the setting up of the constitutes a case of human rights violation of villagers of Goraul Block due to threat of exposure from cancer causing fibers from the proposed asbestos plant. This was revealed at a 2-day conclave in New Delhi organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) during 24-24 February 2012. Some 150 participants from about 100 organisations across the country were informed that a fake public hearing was held in Vaishali on the basis of a 4 page EIA report. The 283 page complete EIA report which is ridden with falsehoods was never shared with the villagers. Although there is documentary evidence in the EIA report itself that the plant site is an agricultural land but it claims that it’s a barren land. There are several villages and schools in the vicinity but its maps do not show them.

I submit that the fake green clearance granted to Asbestos Fibre Cement Corrugated Sheets Manufacturing Plant (2,50,000 TPA) being set up by UAL Bihar (Utkal Asbestos Industries Ltd) for which asbestos fibers will be imported from countries like Canada and Russia.

I submit that although human biology of people of Muzaffarpur and Vaishali is the same, it is strange that the plant in the former district has been wound up but the same is being allowed to be set in the latter district.

I submit that State Government ought to take note of ten crucial national and international developments with regard to hazards from asbestos of all kinds including white asbestos with documentary proof:

1) Judgment of the Italian Criminal Court dated February 12, 2012 convicting owners of an asbestos company

2) Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health of Ministry of Environment & Forests

3) Notice of the National Human Rights Commission dated June 6, 2011 sent to Chief Secretary, Bihar Government

4) New Delhi Declaration Seeking Elimination of all forms of Asbestos including White Asbestos from India, March 2011

5) Government of India’s decision at UN’s 5th Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the UN’s Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade held in Geneva during June 20-24, 2011 wherein it agreed to the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) in the list of hazardous chemicals paving the way for its ‘phase out’

6) Order of the Kerala Human Rights Commission dated January 31, 2009 on ‘asbestos roofs’,

7) Health Management Plan for Mesothalmia, Lung cancer and Asbestosis related problems in asbestos industries (Term of Reference of Experts Appraisal Committee, Industrial Projects),

8) Factsheet of World Health Organisation (WHO) and ILO Resolution

9) Union Ministry of Labour's Concept Paper on Plan to Ban Asbestos

10) NHRC Member's concern for use of carcinogenic asbestos roof by Union Rural Development Ministry in Indira Awas Yojna

I wish to draw your attention towards the dubious move of the UAL staffers who burnt their own premises in broad day light. It appears that it was done to accuse the peaceful villagers who were protesting there at the gate the factory about which prior information was given to the Police and the administration. This appears to be an attention diversion tactics. It has been done to trap villagers into concocted cases as part of company’s design to malign the movement of the KBJBJC.

I wish to share the attached pamphlet of KBJBJC that refers to Union Government’s views against asbestos. "The Government of India is considering the ban on use of chrysotile asbestos in India to protect the workers and the general population against primary and secondary exposure to Chrysotile form of Asbestos." It has noted that "Asbestosis is yet another occupational disease of the Lungs which is on an increase under similar circumstances warranting concerted efforts of all stake holders to evolve strategies to curb this menace". A concept paper by Union Ministry of Labour revealed this at the two-day 5th India-EU Joint Seminar on “Occupational Safety and Health” on 19-20th September, 2011.


It also draws Bihar Government’s attention towards Union Environment Ministry’s 19 page Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health (Para 4.3.1) on page 12 which reads: “Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out”.

The same is available at

The pamphlet referred to the resolutions of ILO and WHO which calls for the elimination of asbestos. It also referred to former Union Health Minister, Mrs Sushma Swaraj’s statement in the Parliament that exposure to asbestos fibers cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer on August 18, 2003. These are incurable diseases yet Bihar Govt is promoting it.

I wish to inform you that in India, mining of asbestos is technically banned but its import from other countries is yet to be banned. Trade in asbestos (dust & fibers) is also banned. Asbestos producing countries like Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Brazil are dumping their asbestos to user countries like India. Interestingly, Canada has a no home use policy. Trade, manufacturing and use of white asbestos is going on because of the corporate influence of the asbestos companies over ruling parties.

I submit that there are grave concerns about asbestos exposures resulting in public health crisis world over. 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.

I submit that one ex-army person Shri Ram Agar Singh who is in the business of supplying security guards observed at the Mahadharna that most of the guards he supplied to asbestos factories in Rajasthan became diseased.

I wish to request you to intervene at the earliest to frustrate the shady designs of the UAL company against the villagers to protect its hazardous plant at the cost of villagers’ health.

I wish to inform you that TWA supports the struggle of KBJBJC and appeals to Bihar Govt to take immediate steps to prevent environmental and occupational exposure to asbestos' besides non-occupational exposures to asbestos by banning use and manufacturing of white asbestos based products. It will set a healthy precedent for all the other states, the central government and neighboring countries. If a decision is taken ahead of Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development being held during June 20-22, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where a global political document is due to adopted by the Heads of States to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit, it will enhance State’s prestige among the comity of nations.

In a related development, a statement from National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has revealed that Bihar government has failed to submit its report on asbestos related diseases. The statement dated June 5, 2012 is attached. NHRC had issued a notice to Chief Secretary, Bihar Government on July 6, 2011. The same is attached as well.

I submit that Union Railway Ministry has started procuring asbestos free products.

In the light of the above, TWA demands that State government should set up a special committee to examine the occupational health status of the migrant workers from Bihar who work in hazardous industries like asbestos based factories and provide medico-legal relief to them. The status of workers currently employed in asbestos based factories in Bihar also merit serious attention because their life is in grave danger.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully

Gopal Krishna

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

New Delhi

Mb: 08002263335, 09818089660,

Phone: +91-11-26517814, Fax: +91-11-26517814,


Shri Ravikant, Principal Secretary, Government of Bihar

Shri Binod Prasad Singh, Additional Secretary, Government of Bihar

Shri Vijay Kumar Verma, Joint Secretary, Government of Bihar

Shri Upendra Nath Pandey, Deputy Secretary, Government of Bihar

Shri Jitendra Srivastava, District Magistrate, Vaishali

1 comment:

Unknown said...

interesting. i like to read this like political topics.. keep it up..

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