Jasidih- A city in Deoghar district in the Indian state of Jharkhand, is famous for one of the twelve Jyotirlings (devotional representation of the God Shiva). The city considered to be sacred is scaring people who know the dark history of asbestos. As per 2017 census data, Jasidih has a population of 14,129 and 20% of its population is below 20 years of age, meaning so many lives are within the vicinity of danger. Located amidst the city, hardly 1 km from the railway station, is an asbestos cement sheet manufacturing company, Hyderabad Industries Ltd.

In India and other developing nations, even after being considered as one of the most hazardous and dangerous material, asbestos-containing products have long been touted as good and used because of their low cost, with little or no mention of their adverse health impacts. Consequently, asbestos-containing roofing products and other building materials are rampantly used, especially in rural areas.

Thousands of workers are joining the asbestos industry every year, unaware of the dangers lurking around them. These workers are allured by the industry through a relatively high pay scale and are neither informed about the ill effects of asbestos fibres nor do the factories comply with industrial standard safety regulations.

A Kid travels about 5 km to get drinking water from the hand-pump which is situated very close to the HIL plant

Kids from the nearby places come and go just like any other random place. It was seen that the local kids come to get drinking water from a hand-pump which was hardly 100m away from the AC sheet manufacturing plant. These kids were crossing the area uncovered and unaware what they going to face if these fibre enter and contaminate their lungs. As per an article published on BBC, it is said that the children are at greater risk as compared to adults in case of asbestos contamination – “A committee that advises the government on cancer has said children are more vulnerable to asbestos than adults over their lifetime[1].”

It is well known that asbestosis takes a long time period (sometimes 20-30 years) to develop hence kids are likely to suffer by the time they are young adults. Hence it can be said that a five-year-old is five times more likely than an adult of 30 to develop mesothelioma, a type of cancer linked to asbestos, if they are exposed to it at the same time.

According to the norms on waste handling, anything that has asbestos has to be conceded as hazardous and to be dealt with extreme care. Under the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989, Amendments 2000, Draft Amendments 2002, asbestos comes under Schedule I (rule 3) and has to have scientific disposal. But looks like the company is not much concerned about the waste disposal and the packaging of the manufactured sheets. This may look little a bit irrelevant as in country like India everybody is used to such lack of awareness, but once people get to know the danger a fiber of asbestos can cause, definitely the companies will be made answerable.

Waste Dump near the front gate


New AC sheets loaded in the truck near the main gate