IMOWatch

This group tracks the responses of shipping industry towards environmental health concerns, highlights influence of shipping companies from EU, US and Japan etc on IMO and its Marine Environment Protection Committee & South Asian governments. It is keen to restore beaches in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan to their pristine glory for the coming generations. For more information visit: www.toxicswatch.org, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com

05/10/2017

Death of Bihari migrant worker Ashok Yadav, 60 yrs in Gujarat's Alang ship breaking industry



ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

To
 
Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Manav Adhikar Bhawan
Block-C, GPO Complex, INA,
New Delhi - 110023
Subject-Death of Bihari migrant worker Ashok Yadav, 60 yrs in Gujarat's Alang ship breaking sector plot no. 14

Sir,

With reference to the recent death of Shri Ashok Yadav, who was migrant worker employed in  the ship breaking activity at Alang, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, this is to inform you that late Shri Yadav was working in sector plot no. 14 on the Alang beach.
We submit that the owner wherein he was employed as a helper gave his family members Rs 25, 000 for his cremation.
The deceased worker is survived by wife and three sons. As per Hindustan newspaper’s Bhagalpur edition, the dead body of the worker reached Chidaiyawad village under Bariyaarpur police station of Munger, Bihar on the evening of 18 September after 72 hours of his death.
We submit so far some 500 workers have died in the ship breaking activity since 1983 as per official records. Prior to the recent death, in the year 2017 two workers died on 4th March and 16th March.
Even as per official data on an average some 10 workers have died annually in the past decade at Alang. As a result of accidents during ship-breaking at least two workers died in 2016 and eight workers died in 2015. In 2014, 18 workers died in accidents in Alang shipyards.
Information on Number of deaths related to ship breaking activity at Alang-Sosiya Ship Breaking Yard, number of prosecutions, status of prosecutions and number of plots closed due to violation of the Factories Act since 1983 to 2013 provided by the Office of the Director Industrial Safety & Health, Government of Gujarat (No./DISH / E-Complaint /2014/ 219) reveals that such accidents have been going on since 1984 without any legal remedy. The information is as under: 
Sr. No.
Year
No. of Deaths
No .of Prosecutions
Status of Prosecution
Closures u/s 40(2)

No. of Factories
No. of days closed
1.  
1983
0
0
Not decided
0
0
 2.  
1984
15
54
Not decided
0
0
 3.  
1985
5
9
Not decided
0
0
 4.  
1986
13
76
Not decided
0
0
 5.  
1987
7
25
Not decided
0
0
 6.  
1988
2
3
Not decided
0
0
 7.  
1989
12
6
Not decided
0
0
 8.  
1990
8
1
Not decided
0
0
 9.  
1991
10
7
Not decided
0
0
 10.
1992
12
3
Not decided
0
0
 11.
1993
16
3
Not decided
0
0
 12.
1994
28
13
Not decided
0
0
 13.
1995
29
7
Not decided
0
0
 14.
1996
28
15
Not decided
0
0
 15.
1997
51
23
Not decided
2
38
 16.
1998
27
13
Not decided
2
17
 17.
1999
29
20
Not decided
1
2
 18.
2000
27
26
31
0
0
 19.
2001
8
12
9
3
22
 20.
2002
19
41
Not decided
1
14
21.
2003
25
9
5
3
59
 22.
2004
5
6
6
0
0
 23.
2005
4
3
Not decided
0
0
 24.
2006
5
12
1
1
6
 25.
2007
6
6
Not decided
0
0
 26.
2008
0
0
0
0
0
 27.
2009
14
8
5
0
0
 28.
2010
21
17
15
0
0
 29.
2011
7
6
34
0
0
 30.
2012
17
9
4
1
46
 31.
2013
10
27
36
0
0








It is noteworthy that till April 2017 some70 end-of-life ships have been sold by foreign shipping companies for breaking in the yards on Alang beach. So far more than 7,000 end-of-life foreign ships have been dismantled on the Alang beach but its cumulative environmental and occupational health impact has not been assessed.  Such assessment and cost-benefit analysis will reveal that such practices are harming the fragile coastal environment of Alang, makes workers and communities in the vicinity vulnerable to exposure to hazardous substances besides harming the primary manufacturers of iron and steel.
We submit that it is quite outrageous that Gujarat Maritime Board (Conditions and Procedures for Granting Permission for Utilising Ship Recycling Plots) Regulation, 2006 [referred to as "Ship Recycling Regulations, 2006] has not been revised in the light of Hon'ble Supreme Court's order and the recommendations of Hon'ble Court's Inter Ministerial Committee.
We submit that the Minutes of the 16th meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Ship breaking held on 1-10-2013 at Gandhinagar, Gujarat held under Chairmanship of Shri Vinod Kumar Thakral, Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Steel & Chairman, IMC on Ship Breaking reveals that it dwelt on the issue of "Safety of workers."

"The IMC was informed that the accident at Plot No. 82, killing 7 persons occurred due to presence of oil and its vapour in the pipeline of the ship, while cutting the oil pipe flanged with LPG gas cutting equipment. DISH has revoked the competency certificate of the person who issued the certificate. The office of the Deputy Director Industrial Safety and Health, Alang has issued prohibitory order under Section 40 (2) of the Factories Act to prohibit ship breaking till oil in the pipe line is completely cleaned and a fresh the certificate is obtained from the competent person. The factory owner has complied with the conditions of the prohibitory order and therefore the prohibition was lifted by the Director, Industrial Safety and Health on 23.11.2012. Prosecution for the violation of Rule 68-H (13) (a) of Gujarat Factories Rules, 1963 (as amended in 1995) made under the Factories Act regarding allowing hot work on pipeline carrying oil and its vapour while ship breaking by the occupier is filed in the court of law against the occupier. Details of the PF related benefits paid to families of the deceased employees were also placed before the IMC need to be examined from adequacy angle. Chairman, IMC enquired whether criminal prosecution was launched against people who were responsible for loss of life in this accident. GMB may provide details in the next meeting. DISH was asked to place the report of action taken in respect of the accident on the website of GMB and prepare Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for preventing such incident in future." This underlines that the death of Shri Yadav in plot no. 14 is not an isolated accident.
We submit that as per Hon'ble Supreme Court judgment dated September 6, 2007 in Writ Petition (Civil) no. 657 of 1995, District Collector, Bhavnagar has to ensure that dismantling takes place as per a dismantling in keeping with its directions. Sources have revealed that in disregard to Hon’ble Court's order so far the District Collector has chosen not to be associated with the dismantling process. Such non-compliance is unpardonable but appears routine.
We submit that monitoring agencies like Gujarat Maritime Board, Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Department of Industry and Department of Labour ought to be made accountable with exemplary compensation to set matters right.
In the context of these deaths if Government of Gujarat were sensitive it would have ensured that no deaths happen in future by re-opening the old cases of occupational deaths on the Alang beach to set matters right. Those plots which are more accident prone than mines must be closed with immediate effect. The migrant workers deserve both medical and legal remedy besides just compensation.
We submit that Government has done nothing to ensure justice to the workers. It has failed to take steps to ensure that such accidents and deaths do not happen in future. These migrant casual workers live and work in a condition worse than that of slave. As a result, Alang coastal beach has become the worst coastal beach in the world in history.
We submit that Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Shipbreaking has taken note of non-existent environmental and occupational health infrastructure for the umpteenth time since 2004. It is sad that recommendations of IMC from 2004 to 2014 onwards have not been implemented.

We submit that after each accident and death of workers, inquiry is ordered but their report remains classified and no action has been taken. It is not clear whether these migrant workers are adequately compensated in case of injury and death. Government should reveal how they have dealt with the death of these workers and how their families have been compensated and what steps have been taken to prevent loss of human lives due to inhuman lust of ship breakers and global shipping companies for profit.
We submit that at present the migrant workers in Alang who face discrimination for being Hindi and Oriya speaking and are not covered under Employees' State Insurance Corporation. Workers' living and working. conditions remain as bad as ever.
We submit that the illegal shipment of hazardous waste "from industrialized countries is being shipped to less developed countries under the listed intention of recycling and reclamation," is a serious problem which has been noted even by INTERPOL. According to Green Customs Initiative, national and international crime syndicates earn 20-30 billion US dollars annually from hazardous wastes dumping, smuggling proscribed hazardous materials. Clearly, environmental crime and escaping of decontamination cost by global shipping companies in collaboration with international recycling industry is a significant and increasingly lucrative business but Gujarat government has turned a blind eye to it.
It appears that the world's most controversial beach has been colonized by the global shipping companies for good. At present businessmen of dubious shades are aiding and abetting colonialism by dumping hazardous waste at the behest of shipping companies of imperial powers. A UN report states, "Health facilities in Alang/Sosiya do not possess sufficient human, technical and financial resources to provide any treatment other than first aid for minor injuries. The nearest hospital equipped to deal with life-threatening conditions is in Bhavnagar, more than 50 kilometres away. The Red Cross hospital in Alang, which the Special Rapporteur visited, can count on only four medical doctors and nine beds to provide health care not only to some 30,000 workers in the yards, but also to the neighbouring villages of Alang (which has a population of about 18,000 people) and Sosiya (4,000 people)". The regime of blind profit at any cost is ruling the roost on this ecologically fragile beach illustrates how all the efforts by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and UN agencies have been undermined with impunity.
We submit that world over Alang has become synonymous with brutal deaths of workers. The rate if accident in the ship breaking industry at Alang is highest from amongst all the industrial sectors. It is worse than the mining industry. These accidents and deaths rampant because of non-compliance with Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order which has upheld UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. The implication of this direction is that all the ships which are entering the Indian territorial waters have to show compliance with the Hon’ble Court’s order seeking prior decontamination of the ship in the country of export. In case there is non-compliance, all such end-of-life ships should go back to country of origin. Hon’ble Court has categorically said in its order of July 2012 that all Ships coming for dismantling have to follow Basel Convention and if there is any violation, action should be taken according to the Municipal Laws.
We wish to draw your attention towards the 15 page judgment of Hon’ble Court dated 30 July, 2012. Hon’ble Court conclusively directed that "...in all future cases of a similar nature, the concerned authorities shall strictly comply with the norms laid down in the Basel Convention or any other subsequent provisions that may be adopted by the Central Government in aid of a clean and pollution free maritime environment, before permitting entry of any vessel suspected to be carrying toxic and hazardous material into Indian territorial waters."
The July 30, 2012 judgment reads: "Such relief would, of course, be subject to compliance with all the formalities as required by the judgments and orders passed by this Court on 14th October, 2003, 6th September, 2007 and 11th September, 2007 in the Writ Petition."
The fact is Hon'ble Court order of October 14, 2003 reads: "At the international level, India should participate in international meetings on ship-breaking at the level of the International Maritime Organisation and the Basel Convention’s Technical Working Group with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of their hazardous substances such as asbestos, waste oil, gas and PCBs, prior to export to India for breaking. Participation should include from Central and State level.” There has been no compliance with this direction so far.
We submit that the main concern is that end of life ships are hazardous wastes which are regulated under UN’s Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal as it is embedded with asbestos waste, cables containing PCT, heavy metals, paint chips etc. It is noteworthy that Basel Convention is related to the control of trans-boundary movements of hazardous waste and their disposal. It is noteworthy that ships destined for ship-breaking operations are "hazardous wastes" under the Convention.
We submit that the case of Shri Yadav’s death provides an opportunity for the Commission to safeguard the human rights of all the workers employed on the Alang beach in hazardous ship breaking activities
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has been working on the issue of hazardous wastes and ship breaking for over decade. It has been an invitee and participant in the UN Conventions. It is an applicant before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). It has appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment & Forests, Parliamentary Petitions Committee, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and relevant UN agencies besides Inter-Ministerial Committee on Ship breaking. It was the applicant before Hon’ble Supreme Court wherein the order for creation of the Shipbreaking Code was passed. TWA had appeared before the Hon'ble Court’s Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes, Court’s Technical Experts Committee on Hazardous Wastes related to Ship breaking and pursued cases involving famous ships like RIKY (Kong Frederik IX), Le Clemenceau, SS Blue Lady, Platinum II and Exxon Valdez and others. It has been an invitee to UN Meetings and training workshops of Comptroller Auditor General of India on environmental health.

There is a compelling logic for the your urgent intervention to ensure environmental and occupational health justice to the migrants workers and save the life and health of migrant workers and local communities from the hazardous industrial activities on Alang beach.\

In view of the above, we seek Commission’s recommendation for adequate compensation to Shri Yadav’s family and setting up of a compensation fund for those suffer from enviro-occupational diseases, injuries and deaths.

Thanking you in anticipation

Yours faithfully
Dr Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660
E-mail-1715krishna@gmail.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.org