Judgment of the National Green Tribunal regarding steps to be taken to protect people from the hazards of asbestos, 17/07/2023

Judgment of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Narender Pratap Singh Vs Central Pollution Control Board & Others dated 17/07/2023.

Narender Pratap Singh, Gram Pradhan, Bishada, block Bisrakh, tehsil Dadri, district Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh in his application before the National Green Tribunal complained about environmental pollution in his village by M/s UPS Vistage Pvt. Ltd.

The applicant has submitted that the hazardous waste was being thrown in the open and highly polluted industrial effluent was being discharged in the drain and nearby fields. Many domesticated and wild animals had died due to drinking polluted water. The villagers were also suffering from health problems due to pollution of ground water.

The NGT vide order, September 15, 2022 constituted a Joint Committee to verify the factual position and submit its report. The team found dumping of discarded asbestos sheets and sludge at multiple locations in and around the village Bishada. The inspection team found a tractor with sludge/asbestos sheet near the company premises heading to dump in a nearby area.

The report filed by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, January 20, 2023 said that when inspection was carried out on January 15, 2023 it was found that the unit had removed shortcomings found by the joint committee during its visit, November 16, 2022. The unit had permanently closed its discharge point from the unit to Bishada drain by constructing a boundary wall. The unit has provided personal protective equipment (PPE) for the workers engaged in feeding of asbestos fiber and waste asbestos sheet in the pulveriser section. All the discarded material and sludge have been transferred to a dedicated hazardous waste covered shed within the premises and the same will be provided to authorized TSDF for disposal, the report said.

The bench of Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi expressed appreciation for the initiatives taken to comply with the suggestions made from time to time during the course of hearing and also action taken in identifying and allocating 33 per cent land for raising plantation programme. in the course of hearing, the applicant also expressed his complete satisfaction with the remedial measures taken by the project proponent.

The NGT said that exposure to asbestos is a risk factor for developing disabling and deadly lung diseases years after the exposure, thus the industry should implement measures to protect workers, their family members and persons coming in contact with them and residents of the locality.

The tribunal also directed the Central Pollution Control to issue appropriate guidelines covering similar asbestos based industries operating in the country to strictly ensure compliance with EC and consent conditions as well as to follow the measures for mitigating adversarial impacts of asbestos exposure on human health and environment.