Hyderabad Industries lawsuit (re asbestos contamination, India)

Asbestos tailingsIn 2014, a community living near the Roro Hills in eastern India brought a claim against Hyderabad Industries Limited (previously Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Products) before the National Green Tribunal, a judicial body for environmental disputes in India, over the environmental and health impacts of the Roro mine. It closed in 1983 but hundreds of tons of asbestos waste remains in and around the mine area.

The community claims that the asbestos from the mine caused health problems, such as lung disease, among ex-workers and those living near the mine. They demand clean-up and compensation.

According to Hyderabad Industries, “[T]he company had followed all rules and procedures for closure of a mine and had complied with the provisions of the law, as in force in 1983."

In January 2014, the National Green Tribunal admitted the claim. In November 2016, the pleading stage was closed and the tribunal posted the matter to be heard on the merits.

Abandoned asbestos mines still a hazard in India, Katy Daigle, Medical Express, 22 Dec 201
Asbestos Mine in India Contaminates Village, Environmental Defender Law Center

Mines, minerals & People (mm &P) & Jharkhandis' Organisation for Human Rights (J.O.H.A.R.):
Asbestos Mine VICTIMS SPEAK OUT, Report of public hearing (Jun Sunwai), 20 Dec 2003 
The Blighted Hills of Roro, Report of independent investigations and fact-finding visit to Roro mine, Feb 2003

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Article
24 November 2017

Asbestos Mine Victims Speak Out

Author: Jharkhandis’ Organisation for Human Rights & Mines, Minerals and People

Roro, a chrysotile asbestos mine,... in Jharkhand (India ) stands abandoned since 1982. It has become a health scourge for the dozen and odd villages living at its foot hills.

...Twenty years ago, Hyderabad Industries Limited mined asbestos from Roro. ...According to former workers the company abandoned the mines when they became unprofitable. In their pursuit for profits, they have left behind a poisoned valley and trail of death.

...On 20th December 2003, Jharkhandis’ Organisation for Human Rights (J.O.H.A.R) mines minerals and People (mm&P) organised a Jun Sunwai  (public hearing)... for the victims of Roro asbestos mines. ....Prior to the Jun Sunwai, independent investigations and fact-finding visit by a team of experts was organised. ...The Fact Finding Team findings indicated that the improper disposal of toxic asbestos and chromite waste by the mining company pose a serious health threat to the local community and the environment. 

...Objectives of the Jun Sunwai:

1) Highlight the grave public health threat posed by the asbestos exposure.

2) Highlight the issue of criminal negligence by Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Product Limited (now known as Hyderabad Industries Limited) the lease owner of the mine.

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Article
23 November 2017

Asbestos Mine in India Contaminates Village

Author: Environmental Defender Law Center

Throughout Europe, it is illegal to extract, manufacture, or use asbestos. Yet asbestos is still widely used across India, and is part of a huge industry dominated by companies that justify the use of asbestos for affordable roofing.

...In the Roro Hills... in eastern India, Hyderabad Asbestos Cement Products mined chrysotile asbestos... and milled it onsite. The mine was one of the largest asbestos mines in India, employing 1,500 workers, mostly tribal people. ...After twenty years of operations, asbestos mining was halted in 1983. The mine was abandoned, with hundreds of tons of asbestos waste left in and around the mine area. The company made no effort to remediate or take any safety measures to avoid future harms to human health or the environment. ...[T]he asbestos and asbestos waste piles have caused and continue to cause damage to human health.

... [T]he company continues to maintain that “This particular asbestos has not been known to give cancer, so far.”

... [A] landmark case [was filed] in 2014 on behalf of the victims, and the bulk of the evidence was filed with the court in 2016. This is the first case of its type filed before the National Green Tribunal ... in India asking for compensation for personal injury caused by toxic pollution.

 

 

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Article
1 February 2003

The Blighted Hills of Roro

Author: Jharkhandis' Organisation for Human Rights & Mines, Minerals & People

...For the last two decades a massive pile of asbestos waste mixed with chromite has been lying on hilltops in Chaibasa, west Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. ... In the last 20 years, nobody... bothered to assess the fate of the waste dumped improperly on top of the Roro hills.

...To assess the impact of this abandoned waste, a fact-finding team was constituted by the mines, minerals & People and Jharkhandis' Organisation for Human Rights in December 2002... 

...The fact finding committee is unanimous in concluding that the closure of the mine has been undertaken in a callous manner.  The company has cited labour union problems for closure and has distanced itself from its duties as a leaseholder and mine operating agency. The lack of focused effort until now has meant that neither the problem of the workers, particularly their financial dues and health aspects, nor the environmental have been addressed.   

The State has an obligation to ensure that the payments due to workers, which is a part of their hard-earned savings, is made to them.  The Director General of Mine Safety has the duty to ensure that mines that are closed are devoid of any hazards. 

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