Construction at Indian asbestos factory halted because of residents’ protests

Construction at an asbestos factory in India was ordered to be shut down by authorities who feared escalating protests by local residents, according to the OneIndiaNews website.

Muzaffarpur district magistrate Anand Kishore ordered officials to close the Balmukund Cement and Roofing asbestos factory in the Chainpur-Bishnupur village, the news source reported.

One demonstration took place at Kishore’s office. The protesters blocked the gate of the district office for several hours and demanded a ban on activities at the factory.

A string of protests have occurred at the factory site in recent months as villagers have battled the district administration and the factory management over their opposition to health and environmental hazards posed by asbestos.

Asbestos fibers that become airborne are a health danger to anyone in the vicinity, and are linked to lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis. That connection to the hazardous mineral has been the focus of many asbestos settlements and mesothelioma lawsuits in recent years.

Environmentalists have previously appealed to government officials to stop construction at the asbestos factory. Local residents have protested the location of the factory in a residential neighborhood that includes homes, schools and healthcare facilities.