Hazardous junks

Pakistan and Bangladesh are the latest targets of the shipbreaking industry

Published: Wednesday 15 April 1998

not only Alang -- the largest shipbreaking yard in the world -- shipbreaking yards in Pakistan and Bangladesh are working on hazardous ships, many of which contain inflamable gases. The norms laid down for the shipbreaking industry prohibits work on gas-free ships. A ship has to be gas-free before any cutting operations can begin. If a ship is not gas-free, it can explode and put to stake the lives of the workers. According to a shipbreaker at Alang, both countries are allowing beaching of such ships. He added that lax environmental legislation in these countries make the conditions of the workers even worse than those in India.

Companies such as Al Burbank Ship Brokers Limited in Bangladesh consider a ship gas-free if it is "safe for a person's entry". In Pakistan, it is not very difficult to sell a tanker which is not gas-free. Worse, the shipbreakers do not invest to make the ships gas-free. In recent times, hazardous ships entering these South Asian countries have grown alarmingly. The West has shifted its focus on South Asian countries for breaking hazardous ships, where environmental norms are not strict.

A report published in The Baltimore Sunusa, suggests that developed countries like the us are eyeing at India, Pakistan and Bangladesh for exporting obsolete ships. The developed countries, due to stiff resistance from environmental groups in their own countries, are finding it difficult to scrap these ships.

V A Pandey, port officer at the Alang Shipbreaking Yard, says that the countries in the West implicate India of receiving hazardous ships. "We don't allow any ship if it carries hazardous waste. Nobody talks about the working condition of labourers in Pakistan and Bangladesh," he says. He says that three vessels -- Bisatun 1, Aledia Pearl and T M Regular -- were refused entry at Alang as they were not gas-free. Later, these ships found their way in the shipbreaking yards of Pakistan.

A spokesperson of the Himanshu Shah of Apollo Vikas Steels Ltd at Alang, claims that shipbreakers in India invest a large amount for making the ships gas-free before beaching at Alang. "It is a direct loss to shipbreakers. Labourers in India live in far better conditions than those in Bangladesh, Pakistan and China. Still, countries such as the us are unnecessarily targeting labour problems at Alang," he says.

Ships which mean trouble
Ship from developed nations flood developing countries
Name of the ship Country of origin Weight in tonnes Date of arrival
T M Regular Japan 35,004 October 1997
Liotina West Germany 41,522 June 1997
Lourdas Japan 35,439 May 1997
Torino France 37,412 April 1997
New Brooklyn USA 34,844 February 1997
Zavely Ilyicha Polland 7,105 January 1997
Kuban Ershwhile 3,500 January 1997
Srabros 1 Italy 18,928 June 1997
Intisai Sweden 22,000 November 1997
Noger Sweden 19,975 April 1997
Eastern Lion Japan 36,507 February 1997
Farnes Japan 27,299 January 1997
Supernal Japan 32,581 Janyary 1997

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