Request from local villagers: assessing impact of asbestos fibre cement roofing sheet plant in Chainpur, Bihar

The proposed Asbestos Fibre Cement Roofing Sheet factory owned by M/s Balmukund Cement & Roofing Ltd., village Chainpur, block Marwan, District Muzaffarpur, Bihar has started an illegal construction of project before the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) accorded Environmental clearance.
The proposed Asbestos Fibre Cement Roofing Sheet factory owned by M/s Balmukund Cement & Roofing Ltd., village Chainpur, block Marwan, District Muzaffarpur, Bihar has started an illegal construction of project before the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) accorded Environmental clearance.
The illegal construction of project was started in January, whereas MOEF officially issued the Terms of Reference (ToR) to project on 15 February 2010 (Meeting held on Feb 02, 2010, Industrial project). The public hearing at the project site and final appraisal from MoEF still awaited but the construction of project is in full swing
“Without environmental clearance from the Government of India, the factory has started the construction. This is a clear violation of EIA notification 2006”, said Umesh Prasad Singh, lawyer practicing in Muzaffarpur lower court. He also mentioned that notification of EIA clearly states that without prior environmental clearance, project proponent is not allowed to commence any construction activity or land related development work; otherwise project’s stand as illegal. The question that arises is why MoEF and Bihar State Pollution Control are not taking action against the violation? BSPCB is well aware this illegal construction, but instead of taking action, it has issued the Consent to establish to the project, he added.  CSE reporter also met Member Secretary of BSPCB and briefed him about the illegal construction; he said it is the ministry that has to take stand on the illegal construction.  
“The factory has not only played with the environmental law, it has also kept the local villagers in dark and acquired the land by saying that they will use for farmhouse. At the time of land acquisition, the company did not disclose that they would set up an Asbestos Fibre Cement Roofing Sheet plant”, says Rajesh Kumar Singh. The fury of villager’s further got exaggerated when they read the venue of public hearing in a newspaper.
The Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) has notified the venue of public hearing in a temple (Rani Sati Madir) at a distance of 27 km away from the project site, knowing the fact that sizeable Muslim population are around the project site. “EIA notification clearly states that venue of public hearing shall be at the project site or in close proximity”, says, Arvind Kumar Singh (Up-Pramukh, Marwan Block). The arguments of the villagers are that, in spite of adequate infrastructure to hold public hearing at the project site, why BSPCB has decided to conduct public hearing at a distance of 27 km. 
This clearly indicates that BSPCB is favoring the company, said Rajesh Kumar Singh of Chainpur village. In order to oppose the venue of public hearing, the people of Chainpur, Parari, Aima Bishunpur stood together and approached Anand Kishore, District Magistrate, Muzaffarpur to change the venue of public hearing. Considering the genuineness of the request and difficulty to access the venue in sizzling summer, Mr. Kishore, wrote a letter to BSPCB (dated 20/6/2010) to cancel the public hearing and ordered to reschedule for the fresh hearing. With the effect of letter, BSPCB again notified the new venue for conducting public hearing, this time it is in Marwan block on 28th June, at a distance of 6 km from project site. The villages unanimously appreciated the decision of Mr Kishore. “Although the venue of public hearing has been changed, this is just an initial step in favour of the villagers. A lot still remains to be done by Mr Kishore”, said Hari Narayarn Singh of Chainpur.
According to Ram Chandran Ray of Gian Panchayat, there are five villages within a radius of one kilometre and the operation of industry will affect the health of the villagers. He further said that this type of hazardous industry should be located in remote areas away from the place of villagers. 
The land was acquired from three villages (Chainpur, Parari, Aima Bisunpur) in the name of setting up a Farmhouse for nursery preparation. Later on, it was disclosed to set up Asbestos Fibre Cement Roofing Sheet, said S.K Chauhan of Parari village. He also said that if we had known this at the time of giving land, we would not have given our fertile land.
Wasi Ahmed, who is the headmaster of a primary school in Gian village, said that, pollution from the proposed project would have an adverse affect on young generation, especially the children. Therefore construction of factory should not be allowed in this area. He also said that there are six government schools and two private schools within the radius of 200 meters to 1 kilometer. Hence, the project site is very sensitive to the people living in this village. So the industry should be relocated in remote areas. According to Ravinder Paswan, who is a teacher in a middle school of Aima Bisunpur village, the operation of a factory should not be allowed because the region is densely populated.
Fake EIA report prepared by Shiva Test house, Patna based EIA consultant:
Draft EIA report is fraudulent and concealed some sensitive issues, for example;
a) Draft EIA report claimed that land is barren; however project area and adjoining areas are fertile and extensively used for cultivation of mango, litchi, wheat, rice, seasonal vegetable, mustard, etc.
b) Project site is sensitive as it is surrounded by eight schools and a number of villages - Project site is located in a densely populated area and close to eight schools, among them six are government and two are private schools, which are within a distance of 50 meters to less than 1 km.
c) EIA report has given the population of 10 km radius, intentionally hide the population close to the project site - Adjoining villages are densely populated; among them are Chainpur (located at a distance of 0 to 50 meter, approx population 10,000), Parari (0 to 50 meter from the project site, approx population 9000), Aima Bisunpur (0 to 50 meter from the project, approx population 8000), Gian village (200 meter from the project, approx population 15000), Mahmmadpur (450 meter from the project, approx population 5000), Roksha (600 to 700 meter, approx population 15000).
d) According to villagers, no monitoring was done at the project site and adjoining areas for generating the baseline data, however draft EIA claimed that they had monitored in December and January, 2009.
e) River Baya is mentioned in the EIA report, village’s claims no such river exist in the region. Similarly, distance of Roksa village was reported 3 km from the project site, village’s claims it is just 600 to 700 meter from the plant site. 
f) According to the EIA report, the power requirement for the plant is expected to be around 1000 KVA. And the proposed project has also mentioned to install DG set of capacity 1250 KVA. To fulfill its power requirement there is no clear information on whether proposed project would take power from grid or use DG set for power supply. The report is also silent on type of fuel to be used in DG set, its quantity and characteristic. According to the feedback from the local villagers, area receives 1 to 2 hour of power supply, sometime even they did not receive power for two to three days. It clearly shows that proposed project would use DG set as the main power supply. But there is no information of impact of operation of DG set in the surrounding area, as there are 8 schools are located very close to the proposed site.
g)  Proposed project will draw 300 m3 of water per day from the ground but failed to provide the impact of water withdrawal on the surrounding villages as the project is densely populated and depends on groundwater for their irrigation and domestic requirement. In the EIA report it is mentioned that it will not generate any industrial effluent and will achieve ‘Zero Discharge Concept’. But in the section 4.8.2 of the EIA report, it has mentioned that wastewater will be discharge on the surface and there will be no adverse impact anticipated. In section 2.6, the water requirement and detail on water balance is not clear. For instance, input water is not matched with the output. In curing the input water is 12m3/day but in the report it is mentioned the water loss is 15 m3/day. Similarly, there is discrepancy in the output water see section 2.6, the table shows that the waste generated from domestic effluent is 15m3/day but in section 2.10.1, the quantity of domestic effluent to be generated is 9m3/day. This clearly shows that water balance of plant has not been done properly. EIA is also silent on treatment of wastewater generated during curing, because this wastewater has level of total dissolved solid (TDS) and may also contain asbestos fibers.
h) EIA report failed to assess the impact of project on the existing road, at present the existing road is just eight feet single road and used by the villagers
Umesh Singh of Bishunpur village through Down to Earth reporter, urge MOEF not to allow asbestos industry in the middle of densely populated area. If factory comes then it would seriously affect the health of the local people adversely. He also mentioned that around 20 percent of the total population are suffering from Kalazar, polio and other diseases, hence the operation of this industry would further exaggerate the health of the villagers, said villagers.
District Magistrate, Anand Kishore has done his job by rescheduling the venue of Public Hearing for the shake of villagers. Now, it’s the turn of MoEF to take serious action against the illegal construction and fake EIA report, said villagers.