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
Shri S. Machendranathan,
Chairman, Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Shipbreaking,
Union Ministry of Steel,
Government of India
Date: 28 February, 2012
Subject-Non-compliance with Recommendations of IMC, UN & SC Order on Shipbreaking
This is with reference to today’s meeting of the Inter-ministerial Committee (IMC) on Shipbreaking and pursuant o my earlier communications, I wish to draw your attention towards non-compliance of IMC's recommendations, Supreme Court Order and a letter received by Union Ministry of Shipping in the matter of ship breaking from Shri Rajgopal Sharma, Advisor, Indian Embassy, Brussels dated December 22, 2011. I wish to inform that Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture is also examining the matter.
I have gone through all the minutes of IMC which are uploaded on steel ministry's website. I have gathered from the deliberations and letter sent to the steel ministry from ministry of environment & forests that despite repeated recommendations issues with regard to occupational health of workers, national security linked with environmental security and entry of dead vessels in India waters on fake documents remains unattended. As a consequence, more than 200 ships which are currently on Alang beach have entered Indian water in violation of Supreme Court's order.
I submit that in the year 2011, 27 workers died in the shipbreaking activities at Alang beach. IMC ought to consider providing relief to these migrant casual workers who live and work in a slave like condition.
I also submit that citing massive pollution as a reason, Sachana shipbreaking plots in Jamnagar district , Gujarat has been closed as per the order of Gujarat government. The Sachna The order's copy in Gujarati and its English translation is attached. Some private agencies have been carrying out ship-breaking work. “The ship-breaking is termed illegal because this breaking activity is going on in the water of Marine National Park. Unless and until, Government of India gives permission, such activity cannot be carried out in the Marine National Park area because Marine National park Jamnagar is a important sanctuary where marine life of excellent quality live,” states an order dated 22-11-2011 from the Office of Chief Forest Conservator “to cancel the plots allotted of Sachana ship braking yard. These plots are in the land of Forest / Marine Sanctuary”.
The order concludes, “GMB has never taken the official permission for the ship-breaking activity. Whatever activity is carried out by GMB is the violation of the rules of Marine National Park. So this activity must be stopped until the permission is granted. GMB must be careful regarding this. If they continue this activity, it will be violation of the rules and the authorities of GMB will be personally responsible for this violation. GMB has never taken the official permission for the ship-breaking activity. Whatever activity is carried out by GMB is the violation of the rules of Marine National Park. So this activity must be stopped until the permission is granted. GMB must be careful regarding this. If they continue this activity, it will be violation of the rules and the authorities of GMB will be personally responsible for this violation.”
The order reads, “Because of ship-breaking, harmful objects like arsenic, mercury, asbestos, oil, etc could harm marine life in the long time. This leads to complex problems for protecting and conserving the Marine National Park and Marine sanctuary.”These observations are quite relevant for the ship-breaking operations on Alang beach, Bhavnagar as well.
I wish to draw your attention towards UN Special Rapporteur's report which reads, "Regulatory authorities in Alang/Sosiya and the shipbreaking industry should step up their efforts to improve health and safety in the yards" because he also states and observes his major concerns as "the health and safety situation prevailing at the shipbreaking yards continues to remain critical, as witnessed by the 12 fatal accidents that occurred in Alang/Sosiya during the course of 2009, and there are a number of identifiable shortcomings which need to be addressed" at page 12 of the report.
The 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)" on page 14.
It observes, "In Mumbai the situation is even worse, with no permanent facilities except first aid and ambulance services." It notes, "most workers, but reportedly also a number of yard owners, are not aware of the serious life-threatening work-related diseases which may result from long-term exposure to toxic and hazardous substances and materials present on end-of-life ships. In particular, it appears that the majority of the workforce and the local population do not know the adverse consequences of prolonged exposure to asbestos dusts and fibres and are not familiar with the precautions that need to be taken to handle asbestos-containing materials."
It is true that "The majority of the workforce lives in overcrowded makeshift facilities just outside the yards. Most accommodations lack basic amenities such as kitchens, toilet facilities, electricity and running water. The water and sanitation facilities available in Alang/Sosiya remain grossly inadequate to deal with the consumption, cooking, and personal and domestic hygienic requirements of the 30,000 workers who work and live there. In Mumbai, the situation is even worse, with no safe drinking water available in the yards."
On page 13, he observes, "the vast majority of the workforce in Mumbai do not receive any information on the hazards or risks to health and safety, nor do they receive any training on how to avoid or minimize them. With regard to safety training, the Special Rapporteur is of the view that existing training opportunities in Alang/Sosiya should be improved, considering the magnitude of the risks associated with shipbreaking activities and the hazardous substances workers are potentially exposed to." The report adds, "Due to the informal nature of working arrangements, workers are not covered by social protection schemes, and do not receive any benefit in case of work-related injuries or diseases."
The Special Rapporteur observes, employers do not pay for long-term medical treatment or for expenses linked to chronic work-related illnesses. Workers do not usually receive any wages or benefits when absent from work on medical grounds. UN Special Rapporteur's assessment reads:”…in India ships are dismantled on beaches, a method commonly referred to as “beaching”. This method of ship dismantling fails to comply with generally accepted norms and standards on environmental protection. Although very little work has been carried out to assess its environmental impact, the dismantling of ships on sandy beaches without any containment other than the hull of the ship itself appears to have caused high levels of contamination of soil, air, and marine and freshwater resources in many South Asian countries, and to have adversely affected the livelihood of local communities surrounding the shipbreaking facilities, which often rely on agriculture and fishing for their subsistence" at page 9 of the report.
I submit that UN Special Rapporteur's recommends "an independent study be carried out to assess the actual and potential adverse effects caused by the discharge of hazardous substances and materials into the natural environment. Such a study should also assess the steps that need to be taken for the gradual phasing out of “beaching” in favour of more environmentally friendly methods of shipbreaking" at page 21 of the report.
With regard to Shri Rajgopal Sharma's letter, I submit that European Commission official in his conversation with Shri Sharma has admitted that currently all trade in dead ships is illegal. The end of life vessels from Europe which constitutes 17 % of world merchant fleet violates Basel Convention, Supreme Court's order and their ow EU Waste Shipment Regulation, 2006. It appears from the letter that EC wants to legitimize its illegal traffic in end of life vessels by amending its EU Waste Shipment Regulation from April 2012 onwards to order to easily transfer their hazardous wastes laden dead ships like Le Clemenceau to Indian beaches while protecting their own.
I submit that this development ought be looked at in the context of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with countries like Japan (1078 page long agreement) and EU (under negotiation) who have been promoting hazardous wastes trade along with countries such as US, Germany, and the UK appear to be outwitting UN’ conventions and Supreme Court’s order by indulging in linguistic corruption by referring to hazardous wastes as recyclable material and non-new goods.
In view of the above, I earnestly request the IMC to submit its minutes, its recommendations and its action taken report to the Supreme Court at the earliest so that remedial measures can be taken at the earliest to safeguard our environmental borders.
I will be happy to share relevant papers in this regard and appear before the IMC as and when required.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Phone: +91-11-2651781, Fax: +91-11-26517814
Mb: 07739308480, 09818089660
Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture
The deafening silence of European NGOs has been engineered through European Commission's funding. On December 20, 2011, European Commission's head of Waste Unit informed an Indian official in Brussels that all the dead ships which come to India and other ship breaking states are illegal under European Commission's EU Waste Shipment Regulation, 2006. In order to legitimize the same, EC has plans to start the process of diluting and amending its Regulation from April 2012 onwards. This insincerity and double speak of EC reveals that EC is under tremendous influence of ship owning companies so much so that it has chosen not defend its own Regulation. It plans to downgrade its Regulation to make it compliant with yet to be born Hong Kong Convention. The fact is that the Convention is unlikely to take birth because ship breakers and environmental groups in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are bitterly opposed to it.
EC under the influence of companies feels that it is one of the ways to support its contracting economy and prolonged recession besides secretly signing free trade agreements with developing countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
It appears that economic crisis in Europe has turned environmental NGOs there to become nationalists and compelled them pay lip service to environmental and occupational health concerns in South Asia. IMO and its master, the ships owners must be quite glad at the turn of the events.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Briefing: 07, February 22, 2012
Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 63rd session, 27
February to 2 March 2012
Market-based measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international
shipping will be among the key items on the agenda of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), when it meets for its 63rd session from 27 February to 2 March 2012, at IMO Headquarters in London.
The MEPC will also discuss issues relating to the implementation of the
ship recycling and ballast water management conventions and consider the
adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention
of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) relating to reception facilities in Small
Island Developing States.
Market-based measures to address the reduction of GHGs
The MEPC will continue to consider a number of proposals for market-based
measures (MBMs), to assist the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from
This follows the adoption, in July 2011, of amendments to MARPOL Annex VI
Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships, to add a new
chapter 4 to Annex VI on Regulations on energy efficiency for ships to make
mandatory the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), for new ships, and the
Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) for all ships.
The Committee will have, for its consideration, the report of an
intersessional meeting of the Working Group on GHG Emissions from Ships,
which met in March 2011 to consider suitable MBMs to reduce GHG emissions
from international shipping. This follows the submission to the MEPC of a
comprehensive report by an Expert Group, which had carried out a
feasibility study and impact assessment of several possible MBMs submitted
by Governments and observer organizations.
The inter-sessional group held an extensive exchange of views on issues
related to, among other things, the desirability of MBMs providing:
certainty in emission reductions or carbon price; revenues for mitigation,
adaptation and capacity-building activities in developing countries;
incentives for technical and operational improvements in shipping; and
The MEPC is expected to outline future work by the Organization on this
matter, including, as identified by the Working Group, further in-depth
examination of the impact of MBMs on world trade and sustainable
development and, in particular, the possible impacts on developing
countries as well as their consumers and industries.
The MBM proposals under review range from a contribution or levy on all CO2
emissions from international shipping or only from those ships not meeting
the EEDI requirement, via emission trading systems, to schemes based on a
ship's actual efficiency, both by design (EEDI) and operation (SEEMP).
Guidelines for the implementation of the mandatory energy efficiency
The MEPC will consider three sets of draft guidelines intended to assist in
the implementation of the Regulations on Energy Efficiency for Ships in
MARPOL Annex VI. The draft guidelines were developed by the intersessional
meeting of the Working Group on Energy Efficiency Measures for Ships, which
met in January 2012. Work on developing EEDI frameworks for those ships
that are not covered by the current EEDI formula will also be progressed.
The MEPC will also consider, with a view to adoption, an MEPC resolution on
technology transfer and the development of alternative technologies to
enable all Member States to meet the challenge of implementing the new
Chapter 4 of MARPOL Annex VI.
Air pollution from ships
The report of the Correspondence Group on the Review of the Status of the
Technological Developments to Implement the Tier III NOx Emissions Standard
will be brought to the attention of MEPC 63.
The MEPC will also continue its consideration of matters relating to the
availability of fuel oil to meet the requirements set out in MARPOL Annex
NOx technical code amendments
The MEPC will be invited to adopt draft amendments to the NOx Technical
Code 2008, relating to certification of marine diesel engines fitted with
selective catalytic reduction systems.
Amendments to MARPOL relating to regional arrangements for port reception
The MEPC will be invited to adopt draft amendments to MARPOL Annexes I, II,
IV, V and VI, aimed at enabling Small Island Developing States to comply
with requirements for port States to provide reception facilities for ship
waste through regional arrangements. Parties participating in a regional
arrangement must develop a Regional Reception Facilities Plan and provide
particulars of the identified Regional Ships Waste Reception Centres; and
particulars of those ports with only limited facilities.
MARPOL Annex V (Garbage) guidelines set for adoption
The MEPC will consider, with a view to adoption, the draft 2012 Guidelines
for the Implementation of MARPOL Annex V and draft 2012 Guidelines for the
Development of Garbage Management Plans, developed by an intersessional
correspondence group. The guidelines are intended to assist in the
implementation of the revised MARPOL Annex V Regulations for the prevention
of pollution by garbage from ships, which was adopted at
MEPC 62 in July 2011 and is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2013.
Ballast water management systems up for approval
The MEPC will consider the reports of the 18th, 19th and 20th meetings of
the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment
Protection (GESAMP) Ballast Water Working Group, which met in late 2011,
with a view to granting basic approval to four, and final approval to five,
ballast water management systems that make use of active substances.
The MEPC is expected to reiterate the need for those countries that have
not yet done so to ratify the International Convention for the Control and
Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004, to achieve its
entry into force at the earliest opportunity. To date, 33 States, with an
aggregate merchant shipping tonnage of 26.46 per cent of the world total,
have ratified the Convention. The Convention will enter into force twelve
months after the date on which not fewer than 30 States, the combined
merchant fleets of which constitute not less than 35% of the gross tonnage
of the world's merchant shipping, have become Parties to it.
Recycling of ships
The MEPC is expected to consider, for adoption, draft Guidelines for safe
and environmentally sound ship recycling, and Guidelines for the authorization of ship-recycling facilities, which have been further developed by the intersessional Correspondence Group on Ship Recycling Guidelines.
These guidelines, along with the 2011 Guidelines for the development of the
Inventory of Hazardous Materials and the 2011 Guidelines for the development of the Ship Recycling Plan that were adopted by MEPC 62, are intended to assist ship-recycling facilities and shipping companies to commence introducing voluntary improvements to meet the requirements of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, which was adopted in May 2009.
The MEPC will also consider the further development of draft guidelines for
survey and certification and draft guidelines for the inspection of ships
under the Hong Kong Convention.
Oil pollution response manuals to be considered for approval
The MEPC will consider, for approval, four manuals aimed at supporting
decision-making for tactical response to oil pollution incidents. The
manuals have been developed by the OPRC HNS Technical Group.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Japanese draw up $22.5m plan for Alang
The Japanese have decided to come to Alang, offering to the Gujarat government a major plan to modernize Asia's biggest ship-recycling yard.
A high-level 15-member Japanese delegation, led by Kenji Tomoda, chairman, Ship Recycle sub-committee of the Japanese Ship-owners' Association, met chief minister Narendra Modi and officials of the state ports department on Monday, telling the state government about the need to make Alang's 170 recycling plots, spread over a 10 kilometres stretch, environmentally friendly, such that foreign ships can reach there without any hassle for recycling.
"The cost for modernizing the yard has been estimated at $ 22.5 million. We have asked the Japanese to fund the project. The delegation seemed keen," a senior government official, who was in the meeting with the delegation, told TOI.
Among those who were part of the delegation included top shipping companies like Nippon Yusen Kaisha and Mitsubishi," the official said, adding, "Other representatives included members of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, which provides technical and other forms of aid promoting economic and social development, and Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry ( METI)."
During their talks with the CM, the Japanese insisted about the need to ensure that Alang complies with the Hong Kong Protocol for Safe and Environmentally-Friendly Recycling, formulated by the International Maritime Organization in 2009.
"This alone with ensure that Japanese ships, which form 15 per cent of the world's total, reach Alang for recycling and do not go anywhere else," the official quoted the Japanese. The official added, "This was the second Japanese visit to India. Immediately after the first visit, we asked Wapcos, the Government of India consultants, to prepare a complete project report on what all is needed in order to implement the Hong Kong protocol, to which India is a signatory."
On their part, the state government assured the Japanese delegation that it will do everything to enforce the Hong Kong protocol, including constructing a safer hazardous waste disposal site and platforms for cutting ships.
The delegation was also assured that better facilities will be created for safer reception of oil from the tankers that come with the ships.