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
Security Concerns at Alang Beach
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE INTER-MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE (IMC) HELD IN THE STEEL ROOM AT 11 AM ON 05-10-2009 UNDER THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF SHRI B.S. MEENA, SPECIAL SECRETARY AND FINANCIAL ADVISER, MINISTRY OF STEEL.
A list of participants is enclosed as at Annexure.
2. Welcoming the participants, the Chairman initiated the discussions with a review of the progress of the follow up action taken on the action points of the last meeting held on 04.02.2009 and also new agenda items, as summarized below:
i) Provision of housing facilities to workers - The GMB officials clarified that though they have acquired the land they are yet to start construction. They are working out the modalities for monitoring the housing units to be constructed and the regulations for their usage, as one of the basic problems faced in Alang is that most of the workers employed in ship-breaking yards are working on temporary basis. During the peak season of ship-breaking activity, they are stationed at Alang but during the lean season, they return to their respective states. The Chairman expressed dissatisfaction over the clarification which did not justify the poor progress made, as the matters has been under consideration for the last few years. He wanted immediate action by the GMB for construction of dwelling units along with necessary infrastructure facilities. The President, ISSSAI also referred to the delay and stated that this was despite GMB collecting ‘housing cess’ from ship-breaking activities during the last 2 years, amounting to around Rs.3.75 crore per year but the same have not been utilized so far. GMB was asked to take immediate steps to start construction of housing facilities as any delay in the matter given the availability of land and funds with them, will imply that they are not complying with the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter. After discussions, the GMB officials agreed to start construction of 3000 dwelling units in the first instance, which would start in December 2009 to be completed within 18 months. They were also advised to seek inputs, if any required, from the Ministry of Labour who may have valuable experience in undertaking such welfare activities for workers.
ii) Provision of sanitation – The IMC has been emphasizing on provision of adequate sanitation facility in the plots for ship breaking and that it should be a mandatory provision, as the absence of such facilities do adversely affect health and productivity of the workers. As per the decision of the last meeting, the Ministry of Labour was to organize a visit and based on the study made, submit a report to the Committee. The Chairman took a serious note of the delays in organizing the requisite visit despite a lapse of more than six months and wanted to know the reasons for the delay. The representative of the Ministry of Labour agreed that a team comprising of the Ministry of Labour, the DG FASLI, Ferrous Scrap Committee, and ISSAI will visit various plots to examine the sanitation issues and submit a report within a month to the Committee.
[Action: Ministry of Labour]
iii) Starting of Trust Hospital – The Chairman expressed concern over the delay in starting the Trust Hospital despite prime importance of adequate health care and treatment facilities. There is continued dependence on the Red Cross Society Hospital at Alang, who do not have the facilities for handling case requiring specialized treatments. The GMB representatives clarified that discussions were already on with the Gujarat State Government for setting up an OPD of Bhavnagar Medical College at Alang to support day-to-day needs. GMB was advised to expedite and resolve the Trust related issues immediately and by March 2010 positively. It was agreed that till such time, the Trust Hospital is not in place, the existing interim facilities provided by the Red Cross Hospital should be adequately supplemented through involvement of reliable health organisations and Institutions.
iv) Definition of Ship – The representative of the DG Shipping informed the Committee about their interactions with the Ship-breaking Associations for finalising the definition of ship before submission to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and also for incorporation in the proposed Admiralty Act being framed by the Ministry of Shipping. It was decided that the Ministry of Shipping and the DG, Shipping will also take into consideration the sensitivities and views of the Ship-breaking industry before finalising the matter.
( Action: DG, Shipping)
v) Participation in Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and other International meetings– The DG (Shipping) representative appraised the Committee about the interactions with the Ministry of Steel on the subject, including providing a set of International Convention documents on ship-breaking adopted at Hong Kong in May 2009 together with a delegation report to the Ministry of Steel and also to members of ISSSAI. It was noted that the Convention is yet to be ratified.
[ No Action]
vi) Radiological study of works by Indian Red Cross – The IMC expressed dissatisfaction over the inordinate delays in conducting of the studies. In response the representative of DG, FASLI assured that it would be completed soon and the study report submitted by the last week of December 2009. The Chairman wanted GMB to provide all necessary help to DG FASLI in conducting of the study.
[Action GMB and DG FASLI]
vii) Issue of gas free for hot work and other services under the Petroleum Rules. - The Chairman felt that as the issue already stands settled, in case of any grievances, the Ministry of Environment & Forests may be approached to resolve it subject to legal considerations.
viii Security Concerns – In the last meeting, it had been decided that the Ministry of Shipping would organize a meeting on security matters with GMB, Naval HQ and Coast Guard HQ, Customs etc. to ensure that issues linked to gaps in the security frame-work are addressed on a priority basis. The representative of Naval HQ informed that they have already taken up the matter with the DG Shipping on 3 September 2009 highlighting the necessary precautionary security steps, including a monthly security meeting to be conducted by the Yard/Port Authority. The representative of the DG Shipping informed that the suggestions of the Naval HQ have been conveyed to the Gujarat Maritime Board. A copy of the Naval HQ’s letter was also handed over to the representatives of the GMB with the direction for further follow up action, which would be reviewed in the next IMC meeting.
[Action: GMB and DG Shipping]
(ix) ID Card for workers:- On the issue of registration of the workers at Alang and providing Identity cards, the GMB representatives informed that a three day training is already being provided to workers after which Identity Cards are issued. It was settled during the meeting that in order to strengthen the safety and security aspects, ship-owners will not deploy workers who have not undergone the said training and who do not possess the Identity Cards issued by the GMB. The GMB may however initiate action for the needful inspections and monitoring to ensure that the requirements are being adhered to by the shipyard owners.
(x) Health/Wages matters:- It was appreciated that GMB have been organizing health camps for workers and it was advised that such camps may be held at regular intervals. They may also in consultation with the ship breakers/employers take all necessary steps to ensure that the provident fund contributions, payment of wages and other statutory contributions in respect of the workers are implemented by the employers as per the relevant Rules and Acts.
xi) Duty Exemption etc:- It was decided that the representations received from Ship-breakers Associations from time to time regarding duty exemption, definition of various category of scrap etc. would be duly looked into by the concerned Divisions in the Ministry of Steel for appropriate action.
[ No Action]
(xii) Safety of workers : The IMC expressed concern over the incident of six labourers being burnt alive in an engine room at Alang Ship breaking yard on 12 th August 2009. The GMB representatives informed that the mishap took place due to faulty work practices of the shipyard owner. The representatives of the Ministry of Labour, DGFASLI and DG Shipping also strongly endorsed the view that safety of workers and eliminating hazards and environmental concerns are issues where no leeway or compromise should be allowed and strong corrective action, including penalizing the defaulters, need to be taken. The Committee felt that the GMB should take immediate stringent action available under law, against such defaulters, including canceling the license for operating the plot. Both the GMB and ISSSAI should review the work norms and safety precautions to ensure that such fatal accidents do not recur .
(Action : GMB)
(xiii) Spillage of Chemicals on Gujarat Shore :- A reference was made to the news report in the Times of India dated 10 th August 2009 on spillage of chemicals on Gujarat shores. The GMB representatives and the GPCB representatives informed that the alleged spillage was not attributable to ships heading for Alang. There is a full fledged plan for oil spill containment at Alang and also proper facilities for management and containment of hazardous waste. The GPCB and GMB representatives informed that they would send a detailed report on the investigations carried out with reference to the reported chemical/oil spill leakage on Gujarat beaches, within a month, ie. by November, 2009.
(xiv) Phasing out Smaller Plot :- On th e ISSSAI representative’s reference to poor progress in the matter, the GMB representatives clarified that IL&FS has been deployed as consultant to design a model plot and studies have been initiated with IIT Mumbai. The study will focus on best practices for managing an integrated ship recycling yard. It was also stated that another study on similar matters is under consideration involving Japanese experts. The Committee advised that these studies be completed expeditiously and the best practices/features/alternatives are incorporated to formulate a model for ship yards in which the health and safety of workers and management of environmental concerns will be given paramount importance.
(xv) Insurance Scheme for Workers :- The representative of ISSSAI was of the opinion that there were constraints in implementing the recent circular issued by Ministry of Labour regarding insurance scheme through Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), The Chairman advised that the matter be taken up directly with ESIC under intimation to the Ministry of Labour.
(Action : ISSSAI)
(xvi) Other issues: It was also decided that the Ministry of Steel will address a letter to the Chief Secretary, Gujarat for suitable interventions to expedite progress on the matters of construction of housing units, completion of trust hospital, improvement in working conditions and related matters concerning the health and safety of workers as well as environmental issues.
(Action: MF Desk, Ministry of Steel)
2. Concluding the discussions, the Chairman observed that in recent months a large number of ships have been beached at Alang, leading to manifold increase in the volume of work, with its safety and environmental implications. All concerned should therefore take needful steps for putting in place necessary checks to ensure health, safety and improvement of living conditions of workers and reduce pollution. For a better understanding of the various issues under consideration of the IMC, he desired to lead an Inter-Ministerial delegation to Alang sometime in the last week of October/first week of November 2009. The visit should therefore be planned accordingly and the next IMC meeting also preferably be held at Bhavnagar/Alang in Gujarat.
The Meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair.
List of participants
1. Shri B.S.Meena, SS&FA, Ministry of Steel -Chairman
2. Shri G.Elias, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Steel
3. Smt. C.Malviya, Economic Adviser, Ministry of Steel
4. Shri A.C.R.Das, Industrial Adviser, Ministry of Steel
5. Shri L.Siddhartha Singh, Director, Ministry of Steel
6. Shri Anil Kumar Madan, Under Secretary, Ministry of Steel
7. Shri S.K.Thade, Directror, Deptt. of IPP
8. Ms.Vandana Sharma, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Labour
9. Shri S.N.Boshan, Dy.Director, DGFASLI.
10. Shri R.K.Singh, Scientific Officer (E) Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Niyamak Bhavan, Anushakti Nagar, Mumbai-400094.
11. Shri G.V.Patel, Regional Officer, GPCB, Bhavnagar.
12. Shri Haresh Parmar, Ship Recycling Industry Association, Bhavnagar.
13. Shri Victor Baa, Under Secretary, Ministry of Defence.
14. Shri Sayan Sen , Dy. Manager (Planning) JPC/FSC
15. Shri Gopal Joshi, Chief General Manager, GMB
16. Shri Atul Sharma, Environmental Engineer, GMB.
17. Commander Palminder Singh, JDNI (Security), Naval HQ
18. Shri D.Mehrotra, Dy.Chief Surveyor, D ir. Gen of Shipping, Mumbai.
19. Shri P.S.Nagarsheth, President, ISSAI, Mumbai
20. Shri T.R.Thomos, Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO)
21. Shri S.Ray, Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO)