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Shipbreakers from India, Pak and Bangla plan united front

Shipbreakers from India, Pak and Bangla plan united front

2 Mar 2010, 0000 hrs IST, ET Bureau

Representatives of ship breaking communities of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have decided to form a common front to oppose the new IMO-mandated ship recycling Convention which their respective governments are planning to ratify.

At an internal meeting held on the sidelines of a recent shiprecycling conference in Dubai, members from the three countries have exchanged ideas and are expected to chart out their future course of action in due course.

"We had an internal meeting between the three countries and decided to work together against the IMO Convention. We are also planning to make one body of the three countries to work against the new stipulation," Pravin Nagarsheth, president of Iron Steel Scrap & Shipbreakers' Association of India.

Last week, the association has submitted a memorandum to the shipping ministry repeating its demand ''that government of India should not ratify the IMO Convention on ship recycling as it is against the interests of the country. The Convention is totally one sided without any obligation on the ship owner or ship builder."

Stating that the Convention has not taken into consideration Indian points of view, itnoted that by ratifying it India has nothing to achieve except international interference.

"Whatever regulations that are needed for environmentally sound and labour safe ship recycling in the country can be implemented through national regulations - e.g., the Amendment to Gujarat Maritime Board Regulations 2003 and The Comprehensive Code on Ship Recycling being finalized by steel ministry under the directions of the Supreme Court of India," it has noted.

The guidelines being developed now under the IMO Convention intend to go much deeper which will make ship breaking by beaching method impossible, it added.

"The Ship Recycling Facility Management Plan and Ship Recycling Plan are nothing but interferences in the national activity. Future requirements under Ship Recycling Facility Management Plan may force a number of ship recycling units to be closed down," the memorandum warned.

According to Mr Nagarsheth, pressure is also being built from the industry not to rectify the Convention. "Our efforts are to involve all industry players, other than association, to sign a memorandum to the government asking it not to rectify the Convention." He said associations in Gujarat are expected to follow suit with a similar memorandum to the government.

According to him, Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) appointed committee has had several meetings with industry stakeholders to arrive at a consensus on the issue, but 'we are far from it.'

Efforts to contact concerned authorities at DGS did not yield results as they were not available.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh recyclers are feeling restless as they are badly affected by the recent government move of declaring ships as toxic waste. Because of the new stipulation, they are not allowed to bring ships for breaking without getting permissions from the exporting and importing countries.

According to reports, several vessels remain anchored off Chittagong as Customs has denied entry to ships which were not certified by the exporting country as free of toxic chemicals, as required by the new rules issued in late January.

According to government sources, it started the crackdown on February 21 only after its previous attempts of barring toxic ships from breaking beaches failed. Workers, however, fear for their livelihoods, with breaking companies halting all work for the past few days.

The yards demolish about 200 ships a year. More than a dozen ships bought for scrapping are to arrive in the next couple of weeks, while other ships are already in Bangladesh.

Ships with hazardous chemicals, asbestos, oil residues and poisonous and gas have caused casualties related to fires, explosions and poisonings in the recent past.


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