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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

11/09/2018

ToxicsWatch writes to Ship Breaking Scrap Committee on Death of workers at Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat

To


Joint Secretary (Shipping)
Ministry of Shipping
Government of India
New Delhi

Chairman
Ship Breaking Scrap Committee
Ministry of Shipping
Government of India
New Delhi

Date: 10 September, 2018

Through Shri S.D. Kaushik, Ministry of Shipping

Subject- Death of workers at Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat on 31st August, 2018 

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your reply dated September 6, 2018 communicated through Shri S. D. Kaushik in response to my letter dated June 28, 2018 and for initiating steps to procure a factual report in the matter of unfortunate death of labourers during ship dismantling operations at Alang-Sosiya Ship Recycling Yard (ASSRY) on Alang beach, Bhavnagar coast, Gujarat. I really appreciate the letter of the Ministry of Shipping sent to Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) seeking urgent report in this matter indicating the action taken.

I wish to inform you that two more workers got killed while dismantling at Alang-Sosiya Ship Recycling Yard (ASSRY) on the Alang Bhavnagar coast on 31st August, 2018 on plot number 103 of the yard on Alang beach. The plot is owned by Honey Ship Breaking Private Limited of Honey Bansal and Rajbhai Bansal. These two workers have been identified as 36 years old Budhabhai Kudecha of Alang village in Bhavnagar, Gujarat and 34 years old Ali Ahmed Ansari of Jharkhand. Indian Expressreported on September 1, 2018 that while working on the ship, these workers fell down and were rushed to the government hospital in Talaja town but doctors declared them dead on arrival. (Reference: Gujarat: 2 labourers fall to death while dismantling ship, Indian Express, September1, 2018, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-labourers-fall-to-death-while-dismantling-ship-5334641/The name of the end-of-life foreign ship in question, the country of its origin and its port of registry have not been disclosed. From the news report it is apparent that no offence has been registered so far.

It may be recalled that Bhavnagar Customs officers had seized the two end-of-life foreign vessels, namely Malek and Luna-H when they were heading towards the ship-breaking yard’s plot numbers 40 (owned by Shirdi Steel Traders of Honey R. Bansal and Rajbhai Bansal) and 103 (belonging to Honey Ship Breaking Company of Honey R. Bansal and Rajbhai Bansal). The vessels had reportedly arrived for dismantling without proper documents. Sources had said preliminary investigation revealed that the last port registry documents may have been forged for easy entry in Indian waters. Both the vessels were last registered at a Dubai port. The state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had taken over the investigations of the two cargo vessels seized by Customs near the Alang Ship Breaking Yard off the Bhavnagar coast in early May 2010. The investigation had been taken over by the ATS. (Reference: ATS takes over probe of vessels seized near Alang, Hiral Dave, Indian Express, May 18, 2010,https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/ats-takes-over-probe-of-vessels-seized-near-alang/). One does not know as to what was the outcome of the probe.  
I submit that this recent death also creates a logical compulsion for the Ministry of Shipping and its Ship Breaking Scrap Committee to inquire into these deaths and ensure that such deaths do not happen in future.
I wish draw your attention towards the minutes of the 8th and 9th meeting of Government of India’s 11-Member Expert Appraisal Committee (Infrastructure -2) [EAC] for projects related to all Ship Breaking Yard including Ship Breaking Unit and other projects, dealt with the issue of upgradation of existing ship recycling yard at Alang Sosiya, Gujarat for undertaking safe and environmentally sound ship recycling operations by Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and further consideration for Environmental and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Clearance under the Chairmanship of Prof. T. Haque. The EAC stipulated the following specific conditions along with other environmental conditions while considering the project for accord of environmental and CRZ clearance:
i)                    GMB shall implement the plan for upgradation of the existing ship recycling units in such a way that will help to improve the overall marine water quality of the sea atleast for Class SW-IV water (for harbour water) parameters i.e. pH range 6.5-9.0; Dissolved Oxygen 3.0 mg/l or 40 percent saturation value, which ever is higher; Colour and Odour: no noticeable colour or offensive odour; Floating Matters Oil, grease and scum (including Petroleum products) 10 mg/l; Fecal Coliform 500/100 ml (PAN) Not exceeding 1000/100 ml in 20 percent of samples in the year and in 3 consecutive samples in monsoon months; Biochemical Oxygen Demand (3 days at 27°C) 5 mg/l; Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) (3 days at 27°C) 3 mg/l restricted for bathing.
ii)                  All the recommendations and conditions specified by Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority vide letter no. ENV-10-2016-99-E (T Cell) dated 8th June, 2016 shall be complied with.
iii)                All details on waste management and handling as given in letter no. GMB/ENV/91(C)/JICA/5404 dated 19-7-2016 as submitted before the committee should also be provided to the State Pollution Control Board along with the application for consent and authorisation to enable them to verify compliance on site before the consents to operate , authorisation or any other permission to operate is given. An action plan shall be formulated, documented and implemented for the existing and proposed dock to ensure zero waste spill.
iv)                The Project proponent shall ensure that no creeks or rivers are blocked due to any activities at the project site and free flow of water is maintained.
v)                  While breaking the ship, boom (circular pneumatic type) should be placed around the ship to control the spillage.
vi)                Collection vehicles used for the collection and transportation of solid/liquid waste should be adequately designed to handle specific type of wastes and shall have protection against the leaking or spilling of solid waste or being blown or hurled from such vehicles.
vii)              Safety and health requirements relating to occupational exposure to Asbestos, while ship breaking shall be in compliance with IS11456-1986 and subsequent amendments. Facility must ensure that workers are not exposed to air-borne asbestos concentrations in excess of prescribed Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs).
viii)            There should be a safe working and operating procedures ensuring safe accessibility to all the areas and compartments of the ship and safe conditions for hot work.
ix)                Hazardous waste inventory that identifies, quantifies and locates the type of waste on board should be carried out before the ship comes to the shore. Chemical safety data sheets should be made available for each hazardous substance that is identified. As per the High Power Committee, maintaining the complete inventory of hazardous wastes on board is a mandatory task for any ship owner. This inventory shall be submitted by the State Maritime Board to the SPCB to ensure safe disposal of hazardous waste. Further permissions for ship anchoring and beaching will be based on hazardous waste inventory. ̇ Removing and cleaning of liquids, fuels and oils: Before start of ship dismantling, all the liquid residues should be removed and cleaned from the ship. This process may continue during the entire ship dismantling process.
x)                  The hazardous wastes identified by the inventory data be properly removed and disposed. ̇ Dismantling plan should be drawn before start of the work. This plan forms the basis for sectional breaking of the ship ̇ Proper storage, breaking and disposal of waste: Waste obtained during dismantling should be sorted and segregated based on the type of waste and disposal option. ̇ Specific wastes from the ship breaking yard are as follows: / Asbestos / Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) / Bilge and ballast waters / Oils and fuels / Metal cutting / Paints ̇ Removal and Disposal of Miscellaneous Ship Machinery.
xi)                The Company should perform air surveillance activities in work areas where asbestos is being removed, including meeting the general monitoring criteria, conducting initial exposure assessments, and performing daily and periodic monitoring. The facility must keep an accurate record of all measurements taken to monitor the workers’ exposure to asbestos. ̇ Facility is required to conduct medical surveillance for all workers who, for a combined total of 30 or more days per year, are performing asbestos removal work or are exposed at or above the permissible exposure limit. This includes medical examination and consultation prior to beginning work, at least annually, and upon termination of employment. The facility must establish and maintain an accurate record for each worker subject to medical surveillance. These records must be maintained for the duration of the worker’s employment, plus an additional 30 years. (As per Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order in CERC v Union of India, records of workers’ health must be maintained for the duration of the worker’s employment, plus an additional 40 years in the case of workers who handle asbestos)
xii)              Company should provide, at no cost, a training program for employees likely to be exposed to asbestos removal work during the ship breaking.
xiii)            The removal of paints and coatings, regardless of the process used, generates wastes that must be managed and disposed. The Company should implement procedures to ensure that all wastes are contained and stored in a manner that will prevent their release into the environment.
xiv)            To ensure better safety and security of plots, open spaces (buffers) can be created for giving emergency access/ parking to/for fire tenders, installing water lines for emergency services, access to beach, anchoring rescue boats and dinghies.
xv)              Truck parking facility should be provided for easy accessibility of vehicles for transporting scrap and other materials and to relieve the traffic congestion around the yards. The parking facility should have basic infrastructure like potable water, sanitation, resting, shops, eating joints, vehicle repair shops, fuelling stations, etc., for the drivers. It should also have accommodation for transporter companies/agents. To accommodate more number of vehicles the trucks can be parked angularly.
xvi)            Facility must ensure that workers are protected from exposure to airborne PCB concentrations. As per OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations, governing exposure to PCBs in the workplace include two time-weighted averages for chlorodiphenyl.
xvii)          All encroachments shall be removed and suitably rehabilitated as proposed. The project proponents would provide for waste management from eateries, dhabas and other sources within the area of jurisdiction/ influence of the project.
xviii)        All the recommendations mentioned in the rapid risk assessment report, disaster management plan and safety guidelines shall be implemented.
xix)            Automatic /online monitoring system (24 x 7 monitoring devices) for air pollution as well as water pollution in respect of flow measurement and relevant pollutants in the treatment system to be installed. The data to be made available to the respective SPCB and in the Company’s website.
I submit that these conditions are mandatory relevant for all the plots in the ship breaking/dismantling/recycling because the industrial operations got conditional clearance subject to compliance with the above mentioned conditions. The report of the GMB must provide details of their compliance with these conditions.
I submit that “Employer” which means a natural or legal person that employs one or more workers engaged in Ship Recycling as per Shipbreaking Code 2013 must be made to comply with the Code. As per the Code, the Ship Recycler shall have to submit an undertaking to the State Maritime Board/ Port Authority to the effect that they shall comply with the Safety, Health-'arid Environment (SHE) management aspects as per the SHE Policy as enumerated below before approval of the Ship Recycling Facility Management Plan (SRFMP):
(i) A policy with focus on adequate worker safety and the protection of human health and environment, including the establishment of goals leading to the minimization, and ultimately elimination of the adverse effects on human health and environment caused by ship recycling.
(ii) A system for ensuring implementation of the requirements set out in national, regulations, the achievement of goals set out in the policy of the company, and, a commitment for continuous improvement of the procedures used in ship recycling operations.
(iii) Identification of roles and responsibilities of supervisors, contractors, and workers.
(iv) A programme for appropriate training of workers and availability of adequate PPEs and material handling equipments.
(v) An emergency preparedness and response plan for the plot.
(vi) A system for monitoring the performance of the ship recycling operations.
(vii) A system for reporting how the ship recycling operations would be performed, including system for reporting discharges, emissions and accidents, including accidents causing damage or accidents having potential to cause damage to workers' safety, human health and the  Environment, due to handling of hazardous wastes, and materials containing hazardous substances.
As per the Code, the ship recycler is supposed to ensure that:-
 (i) A board displaying important precautions (do's and don'ts) to be followed during ship recycling activity is installed at prominent places on the plot and that such display is made in English and vernacular language(s) as understood by the workers employed on such plot
(ii)All the equipments on the plot such as crane, winch, chain rope and shackles, generator set and any other safety equipments as may be prescribed from time to time, shall be installed and maintained in accordance with the provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 and Rules made there-under and any other relevant Acts and Rules.
(iii)An explosive gas detector, a multi gas monitor including hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas monitor and an oxygen percentage analyzer are available in the plot in working condition.
(iv) Proper lighting arrangement is made on the yard.
(v)Every Ship Recycling Facility should have a detailed emergency plan. The emergency plan should be rehearsed once in 6 months. Further, an off-site emergency plant for the whole district should be prepared and rehearsed once in a year.
I submit that the Shipbreaking Code 2013 states that “Permission for ship-recycling activities under this Code shall not be given to any ship- recycler by the SMB/Port Authorities unless the ship recycler has complied with all the requirements under the SRFMP.” The deaths of these workers show how permission for ship-recycling activities is being granted despite non-compliance with the requirements as per the Code.
I submit that accountability of all the concerned public institutions including GMB must be fixed to set matters right. The liability of the employer of these workers must be fixed. 
Besides compliance with conditions of environmental and CRZ clearance, the concerned public institutions and the employer must be made to demonstrate their compliance with the UN’s Basel Convention, Shipbreaking Code 2013 and orders of Hon'ble Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 657 of 1995.
Hon’ble Court has observed in its order that ship breaking “deserves to be strictly and properly regulated. When the ship arrives at a port for breaking, the concerned authorities have to be vigilant about the hazardous waste which may be generated if appropriate timely action by various agencies, in particular, Maritime Board and the SPCB are not taken. The major ship breaking activity in India is at Alang in State of Gujarat and, therefore, Gujarat Maritime Board and Gujarat SPCB have to be alive to the consequences of the appropriate steps to be taken before the breaking activities start. According to the recommendation of HPC, the Inter Ministerial Committee comprising Ministry of Surface Transport, Ministry of Steel, Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Environment should be constituted with the involvement of Labour and Environment organizations and representatives of the ship breaking Industries.”

I submit that Ship Breaking Scrap Committee has been set up a substitute of the Inter Ministerial Committee but it does not have involvement of Labour and Environment organizations.   

Hon’ble Court observed, “The ship breaking operating referred to above cannot be permitted to be continued without strictly adhering to all precautionary principles, CPCB guidelines and taking the requisite safeguards which have been dealt extensively in the report of precautionary principles, CPCB guidelines and taking the requisite safeguards which have been dealt with extensively in the report of HPC which include the aspect of the working conditions of the workmen.” Hon’ble Court relied on the report of a High Power Committee (HPC) with Prof. MGK Menon as its Chairman which it had constituted to examine all matters in depth relating to hazardous wastes.

I also wish to inform you that the minutes of the 9th meeting of EAC provide a list of all wastes including hazardous wastes generated in the process of dismantling of end-of-life ships.  Ship breaking activity generates hazardous wasets like Asbestos Containing Material (ACM), Sludge Residue and Contaminated Material, Plastics and Cables with Paint chips containing PCBs and Bilge water. In its submission GMB, the project proponent claimed before the EAC that there are two ship recycling plots have been selected for asbestos removal. At each plot, monitoring was carried out at two locations: One location is very near to the workers and the 2nd location is 4 feet away from the workers. The minutes record that “It is reported that exposure of Asbestos fibres are within the permissible exposure limit of 1fibre/cc at Alang Ship Breaking yard.”

Asbestos and ACM is found on ships in many types of materials Bulk-head and pipe thermal insulation, Bulkhead fire-shields / fireproofing, Uptake space insulation, Exhaust dust insulation, Weld shop protectors and burn covers, blankets and any fire fighting clothing or equipment, any other type of thermal insulating material, Brake linings, Steam, water and vent flange gaskets, Sound damping,  Moulded plastic products (e.g. switch handles, clutch linings), Sealing putty, Packing in shafts and valves and asbestos arc chutes in circuit breakers. When ACM is deteriorated, crushed or otherwise disturbed, asbestos fibres break up into very fine fibres and are released to the environment by either dispersing in the air, floating on water or accumulating on the ground. Because asbestos fibres are small (0.1 – 10 microns long) and light, they easily become airborne and remain so for long periods. People working in asbestos laden air inhale the fibres.

Asbestos exposure during ship recycling can occur by occupational exposure. Most significant asbestos inhalation occurs when workers are engaged in removing asbestos bearing thermal insulation (especially friable asbestos), handling of circuit breakers, cable, cable penetrations, removing asbestos containing floor tiles, handling and removing gaskets with piping and electrical systems as well as moulded plastic parts.

There is para-occupational exposure to asbestos. Workers families may inhale asbestos fibres released by their clothes that have been in contact with ACM. There is neighbourhood exposure as well. People who live or work near asbestos related operations may inhale asbestos fibres that have been released into the air by these operations. There are several types of lesions associated with asbestos inhalation – fibrosis, carcinoma and mesothelioma (cancer of mesothelial tissue e.g. pleura, peritoneum). Fibrosis is associated chronic industrial exposure to all forms for asbestos fibres. Usually 4 – 7 years chronic exposure is required to produce serious degree of fibrosis but the same can be hastened by smoking. Fibrosis causes persistent coughing, breathing trouble and impairs lung function; secondary problems can be fatal. In human beings asbestos has been known to cause cancer in lungs, pleura (outer covering of lungs), peritoneum (lining of abdominal cavity) and even intestines. There is evidence to suggest that brief but intense asbestos inhalation can lead to mesothelioma after a latency period of up to 40 years. Asbestos inhalation causes lysis of red blood cells, cytotoxicity of pulmonary macrophages and stimulation of collagen synthesis. These hazards are admitted in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports of projects that require handling of asbestos.

Although the General Conference of the International Labour Organization adopted a Resolution
conerning Asbestos on 14 June, 2006 and declared “all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, are classified as known human carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a classification restated by the International Programme on Chemical Safety (a joint Programme of the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization and the United Nations
Environment Programme)” and resolves “that (a) the elimination of the future use of asbestos and the identification and proper management of asbestos currently in place are the most effective means to protect workers from asbestos exposure and to prevent future asbestos related diseases and deaths; and (b) the Asbestos Convention, 1986 (No. 162), should not be used to provide a justification for, or endorsement of, the continued use of asbestos,” ship owners, ship breakers, EAC and GMB have been using Asbestos Convention, 1986 (No. 162) for the continued use of asbestos.

It is noteworthy that in Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC) vs Union of India case Hon’ble Supreme Court has directed in the central and state governments “to review the standards of permissible exposure limit value of fibre/cc in tune           with the international standards reducing the permissible content as prayed in the      writ petition referred to at the beginning. The review shall be continued after every 10 yews and also as and when the I.L.O. gives            directions in     this behalf consistent with       its recommendations    or any Conventions.” Despite the fact that both central government and Gujarat government have to update their Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) as per ILO’s directions and resolutions, they continue to give environmental clearance and No Objection Certificates to the industrial units that entail handling of asbestos. In the light of ILO’s resolution of June 2006, governments have to ensure prohibition on handling asbestos. This necessitates compliance with Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order in Writ Petition 657 of 1995 which required “Decontamination of ships (in the country of export) before they are exported to India for breaking.” Unless this is done worker’s lives cannot be saved.
  
I submit that under the amendments made in International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974 on 6 December 2000 amendments on “Asbestos on board ships” prohibits the new installation of materials which contain asbestos on all ships in the construction - structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations. The new regulation under SOLAS Chapter II-1 entered into force on 1 July 2002 with some exemptions. IMO Circular 1374: Information on Prohibiting the Use of Asbestos on Board Ships adopted in 2010 during the 88th Session of the Maritime Safety Committee has stopped these exemptions in order
to “prevent any further use of asbestos…”. Ministry of Shipping should take cognizance of the fact that IMO has joined international agencies – including the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer – in recognizing the disastrous effects of asbestos exposure on human health. The ship recyclers and ship owners who employ workers to handle asbestos laden end-of-life foreign ships have been ignoring it on Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat.

It is noteworthy that Paint chips admittedly found on ships contain heavy metals such as lead, chromium, copper, Zinc and aluminum, toxic additives to inhibit marine growth and PCBs. It may be noted that the “International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships” adopted on 5th Oct., 2001 and in force since 17th Sept., 2008 prohibits the application or reapplication of organotins compounds which act as biocides in antifouling systems or the ships “shall bear a coating that forms a barrier to such compounds leaching from the underlying non-compliant antifouling systems”. These end-of-life ships also have e-wastes which contain PCBs, heavy metals (Lead, Beryllium, Copper, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, Hexavalent Chromium), PVCs and complex organic compounds such as Octabromodiphenyl ether (OBDE), Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA). Many of these are toxic and once they enter the food chain can have long term toxic and teratogenic effects which may be fatal. Workers are routinely exposed to these hazards which act as slow poison. It incapacitates them with incurable diseases. 

I submit that the Shipbreaking Code 2013 prepared in compliance with Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order refers to hazardous materials-Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs), Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), radioactive materials, Residual Radiation Level, Hazardous residues in Cargo Tanks and hazardous wastes in platforms and the vessels contained in the structure of the ships due to which it is difficult to cut and also involves safety hazards. Such end-of-life ships are treated as of “Special Concern" in the Code.  Wastes containing 50 mg/kg or more of PCBs are classified as “Hazardous Wastes” vide Schedule II of Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Trans-boundary Movement), Rules, 2008. Chronic exposure leads to severe acne, edema formation, microsomal enzyme induction, porphyric action, oestrogen activity and immuno-suppression. PCBs are also strong skin irritants. Areas of skin exposed to PCBs develop pimples and dark patches which grow into pustules later. PCBs attack the liver causing acute yellow atrophy. Prolonged exposure leads to nausea, weight loss, jaundice, edema, abdominal pain and fatal liver damage. PCBs are also regarded as potent carcinogens. PCBs are known to pass through the placental barrier to affect the foetus. The inquiry report must provide details regarding such special concerns. 

It may be noted that Hon’ble Court has observed, “Hazardous Wastes are highly toxic in nature. The industrialization has had the effect of generation of huge quantitie of hazadous wastes. These and other side effects of development gave birth to principles of sustainable development so as to sustain industrial growth. The hazardous waste requires adequate and proper control and handling. Efforts are requires to be made to minimise it. In developing nations, there are additional problems including that of dumping of hazardous waste on their lands by some of the nations where cost of destruction of such waste is felt very heavy. These and other allied problems gave birth to Basel Convention. The key objectives of the Basel Convention are:" To minimize the generation of hazardous wastes in terms of quantity and hazardousness; to dispose of them as close to the source of generation as possible; to reduce the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes." It recorded how dumping of hazardous waste in India results in serious and irreversible damage to the environment, flora and fauna, health of animals and human beings and constitutes violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India and the UN’s Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal that was signed by India on 15th March, 1990 and ratified on 24th June, 1992.   
Hon’ble Court further observed, “The ratification of Basel Convention by India shows the commitment of our country to solve the problem on the principles and basis stated in the said document” and held that “The Basel Convention, it cannot be doubted, effectuates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21.” The ongoing deaths of workers in on Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat shows how worker’s Right to Life has been violated with impunity and with no tangible remedy in sight so far. The trade in end-of-life foreign ships constitutes trade in hazardous wastes under the Basel Convention. It may be noted that foreign interests have been lobbying with Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry to establish a regime wherein free trade in hazardous waste get legalized forever. It is noteworthy that China has banned trade in foreign waste because it undermines the stature a nation among the comity of nations.     
In view of the above, I request you to ensure compliance with the Basel Convention, Shipbreaking Code 2013 and orders of Hon'ble Supreme Court besides providing legal remedy to workers’ families and taking steps for the improvement in the working and living environment of the workers because ongoing deaths of workers cannot be naturalized in any civilized and sovereign nation. 
Thanking you in anticipation.
warm regards
Dr Gopal Krishna
Editor, ToxicsWatch
Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660
E-mail: 1715krishna@gmail.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.org, www.asbestosfreeindia.org

"We may admire what he does, but we despise what he is."-referring to humans who act mechanically on instructions
-------Wilhelm von Humboldt, 1792

Cc
Chairman, Ship Breaking Scrap Committee
Secretary, Ministry of Commerce
Secretary, Ministry of Steel
Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change
Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board
Focal Point, Basel Convention, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change 
Member Secretary, Ship Breaking Scrap Committee
Member, Ship Breaking Scrap Committee
Shri S.D. Kaushik, Consultant, Ministry of Shipping
Shri Kushal Vashist, Director, MoEFCC & Member Secretary of EAC 

P.S.: Earlier, on June 22, 2018 a laborer died due to flash fire in Bhavnagar's Alang Ship Breaking Yard Plate. A laborer named Odisha's Pintu Das Subhash Das died on the spot. When two laborers were injured. The injured have been shifted to Tilja Hospital for treatment. Two laborers were shifted to Taleja Hospital for treatment. The flash fire was leaked to the gas line in Plot No. 125 of the Alang Ship Breaking Yard of Mariya Ship Breaking P.Ltd of Shri Varun. Divya Bhaskar, a Gujarati newspaper reported “Bhavnagar: A laborer dies due to flash fire in Alang Sheep yard, two wounded”, https://www.divyabhaskar.co.in/news/SAU-BVN-OMC-LCL-flash-fire-in-alang-ship-breaking-yard-and-one-lobour-death-gujarati-news-5900887-PHO.html?seq=1 It may be noted that it was reported by Tv9 Gujarati, a Gujarati news channel and Sambhaav News as well. The name of the end-of-life foreign ship in question, the country of its origin and its port of registry has not been disclosed. From the news report it is apparent that no offence was registered.

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