CPCB panel appointed to inspect Utkal Asbestos plant site in Bihar

Patna High Court pulls up state pollution control board for submitting affidavits that contradict each other

By Alok Gupta
Published: Monday 07 October 2013

The Patna High Court has pulled up the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) for its vacillating stand on the partially constructed asbestos unit of Utkal Asbestos Limited (UAL) in Bihar’s Vaishali district. The court questioned the functioning of the board and asked how it could change the environment norms meant to protect humanity and prevent Bhopal gas-like tragedy.

The single-judge bench of Janardan Singh said BSPCB hardly applies its mind while giving clearances as proved in the instance of UAL. Taking a strong exception to the stand of the board, the court appointed a five-member committee of Central Pollution Control Board to conduct a thorough inspection of the site and submit its report to the court.

Earlier, BSPCB had given no objection certificate to UAL. Residents of Hajipur had staged violent protests against the asbestos unit. Village residents protested the glaring loopholes in the environment impact assessment report of the company. According to specifications laid down by BSPC, the asbestos unit cannot be established in 500m radius of residential areas.

BSPCB had given clearance to the project, saying the residential areas are more than 500 m away from the proposed project. Later, it accepted that residential area, including a school, is within 500m of the project. The board then cancelled the NOC   given to UAL.

The court in its recent hearing observed that it cannot trust the affidavits and facts presented by BSPCB.  The court dismissed the objection raised by UAL that CPCB should be allowed to only measure the distance of residential area from the proposed unit.

Asbestos factory demolished in Vaishali, 55 countries have banned asbestos

Letter to Navin Kumar, Chief Secretary, Govt of Bihar from Medha Patkar on Utkal Asbestos Limited [UAL] in Vaishali, Bihar

The JPC-SE position statement on asbestos: A long-overdue appeal by epidemiologists to ban asbestos worldwide and end related global environmental injustice

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