Asbestos factory Muzaffarpur, BH, India

Asbestos factory forced to stop construction thanks to school children mobilization

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Government of Bihar had permitted many asbestos plants to set up in different district of Bihar. Muzarffarpur, Bhojpur, West Champaran and Vaishali districts were selected for setting up these plants. Most of these districts are rich in agriculture and densely populated. Among the many factories, people of Chainpur-Vishunpur village in Muzaffarpur district heavily protested during the construction of an asbestos plant by a Kolkata based company named Balmukund Cement and Roofing Ltd. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">The agitation began when the people got to now that the company is going to start an asbestos sheet making factory. Earlier people were informed that there will be an agro-based factory. Also, the villagers came to know that the company had misinformed the Union Environment Ministry through its Environment Impact Assessment report that the village land where the plant is going to set up is on “barren” land. There is a legitimate ground for the protest against acquisition of agricultural land for hazardous asbestos factory [1].<br/><br/>In 2010-2011 people of the areas come under the banner of ‘Khet Bachao Jiwan Bachao Jan Sangharsha Committee’. Fearing the strengthening of the protest, the administration as well as the factory owner curbed the movement. Leaders were arrested and police used batons, teargas shells and opened fire on the peaceful agitators on three times while injuring dozens of people including women and children [1]. In the district town Muzaffarpur, a number of political parties such as CPI, CPI(M), SUCI expressed their solidarity and urged the state government to permanently halt work on the plant in public interest. They are also demanding for release of the protesters [3]. After the brutal lathi charge and firing on 22 January, 2011 the Government of Bihar stopped the construction work of the factory. However, the government has not been declared asbestos factories under banned category [1].<br/><br/>This is the first time that students have launched a protest movement on the back of lessons learned in school. The local villagers particularly the school children learnt from their school books that the asbestos has a severe consequence on human health. It may cause diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. All forms of Asbestos including the “chrysotile” (White) Asbestos to be used in the factory is carcinogenic in nature. Also, the construction of the plant was taken without consulting villagers. Above all, the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report was not made available in Hindi. This EIA report is factually incorrect. The Public Hearing was not conducted in a proper manner [2]<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Asbestos factory Muzaffarpur, BH, India</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/india">India</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Bihar</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Village - Chainpur-Vishunpur; Block- Marwan; District- Muzaffarpur</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>HIGH local level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)<br /> Mineral processing<br /> Other industries</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/asbestos'>Asbestos</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns">Balmukund Cement & Roofings Ltd is the subsiadiary of Balmukund Group based in Kolkata, West Bengal. The company is engaged in various types of modern building products [5]. The company’s EIA report revealed that 29000 tonnes per annum of raw asbestos fiber, a hazardous material will be imported to manufacture sheets in the factory [2]. The estimated cost of the factory was about Rs 31-crore [6]. The factory was expected to employ about 500 villagers after it become full functional </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Level of Investment (in USD)</td><td>$4,984,067 (Rs 31crore) </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>25,000-30,000</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>2010</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/balmukund-cement-roofings-ltd'>Balmukund Cement & Roofings LTD <small>(Balmukund)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-company/india'><small>India</small></a> - <small>Owner</small></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Bihar State Pollution Control Board <br/><br/>Government of Bihar<br/><br/>Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Citizen Forum against Asbestos (Patna, Bihar)<br/><br/>‘Khet Bachao Jiwan Bachao Jan Sangharsha Committee’<br/><br/>All India Krishak Khet Mazdoor Sangathan<br/><br/>Communist Party of India--Political Party<br/><br/>Communist Party of India (Marxist)--Political Party<br/><br/>Socialist Unity Centre of India--Political Party</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Farmers<br /> Indigenous groups or traditional communities<br /> Local ejos<br /> Landless peasants<br /> Local government/political parties<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities<br /> Social movements<br /> Women<br /> Local scientists/professionals<br /> School Children</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Development of a network/collective action<br /> Property damage/arson<br /> Public campaigns<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Referendum other local consultations<br /> Blockades<br /> Land occupation<br /> Sabotage<br /> Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes<br /> Objections to the EIA<br /> Street protest/marches<br /> Strikes<br /> Development of alternative proposals<br /> Official complaint letters and petitions<br /> Threats to use arms</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Groundwater pollution or depletion<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts, Deaths</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>Stopped</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Strengthening of participation<br /> Under negotiation<br /> Project cancelled<br /> Withdrawal of company/investment</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>There is a global awareness of the asbestos fibers and their health impact. When the people all around the globe are trying to get rid of all forms of asbestos, they also do not want to allow any such asbestos plants into their locality. Protestors demanded immediate stop of the construction of asbestos cement plants. They want their village asbestos free. [2].</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Not Sure</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>Asbestos known to cause lung cancer and silicosis is banned in many developed and developing countries around the world. In India, though mining of asbestos is banned, companies are allowed to manufacture asbestos products. <br/><br/>Local people particularly the school children are very much aware about the severe health impact of Asbestos. So, from July 2010 through January 2011 they protested heavily against coming up of the plant. With the substantial protest, district administration in Muzaffarpur imposed Section 144 (Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973, (unlawful assembly) according to sections 141-149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the maximum punishment for engaging in rioting is rigorous imprisonment for 3 years and/or fine) near the facility. Police also tried to suppress the movement by arresting the leaders [3]. <br/><br/>According to the company the villagers’ should not be worried about the plant. The villagers are being misinformed because unlike blue asbestos, white asbestos is harmless. There are over 50 white asbestos factories throughout the country. Many of these factories are in densely-populated areas and there are no protests against the factories in these areas. However, villagers are informed that white asbestos, is widely used in the developing world, but is banned on health grounds in many industrialized countries. Even the World Health Organization says that it is also related to the diseases like mesothelioma, lung and other cancers. So, the villagers are not satisfied with explanations from the company officials. They say that school text books approved by the Bihar government shows that all forms of asbestos are not only harmful but also cause deadly diseases such as cancer. Hence, they will not allow any factory to come up in the village [4].<br/><br/>District Magistrate (DM), Muzaffarpur, stopped construction work and imposed prohibitory orders in the area around Plant in January 2011. However, villagers want to continue their protest till there is total ban on asbestos plants [6].<br/><br/>The movement is unique in the sense not only because of the vociferous nature of the protest but also many poor, and people from remote area with high levels of illiteracy were also involved. The movement has caught the attention of India's environmentalists and prominent social workers. Meanwhile, the schoolchildren of Muzaffarpur are demonstrating every day to make people aware of the hazardous effects of the "asbestos dust" [4].</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Manufacture, storage and import of hazardous chemical rules, 1989<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Indosh News<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> [1] Bihar, India: People’s movement stalls the construction of an asbestos factory<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [2]Copy of letter sent to the Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) of Muzaffarpur<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [3] Bihar's Singur? Stir over asbestos plant<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [4] Student protest halts asbestos factory in Bihar, India<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [5] Balmukund Cement & Roofings LTD.<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> [6] Resounding 'No!' to asbestos plant in Bihar<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Killer asbestos factory impending in Bihar despite protests<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> High court orders renewal of permit to Utkal asbestos plant in Bihar<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Media Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Protest against Asbestos Factory<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p><strong>Factory closed after protests after the protest</strong> Source :<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>Children learning from school books</strong> Source:<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Swapan Kumar Patra</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>17/02/2015</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>