The fact that asbestos has been banned in 52 countries attests to the lethal nature of its fibres, which are directly linked to lung cancer and asbestosis if inhaled. However, in India, steered by a need for jobs and sturdy building material, asbestos continues to be manufactured and imported in large quantities. According to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database, India is the largest importer of asbestos, most of which is used in the production of corrugated roofing sheets.
In Ajeet’s village in Bihar, the owners of the factory bought fertile land from the villagers under the pretext of setting up a medicine manufacturing unit. Once the truth came out, the inhabitants surrounding the factory complained and insisted that it be shut down. But authorities, pressured by a powerful lobby, have turned a deaf ear. Bereft of proper health care and security regulations, villagers are afraid that the ones who work in the factory and those who live around it will be exposed to a slow and inevitable death.