Published: Monday 15 June 1998

The ministry of environment and forests has barred entry to ships that carry hazardous wastes, like polychlorinated biphenyl, which are banned under the Basel Convention. The decision has been taken in order to check the threat posed to the marine ecosystem by ship-breaking yards at Alang. Complying with the order, the Gujarat government has formed a committee so that these guidelines formulated by the Central Pollution Control Board can be implemented (Down To Earth, Vol 6, No 20).

The ministry has formulated guidelines for all such yards in the country and an 11-member committee has been formed to study the problems. Following this, the Gujarat government has also formed a committee headed by the Bhavnagar collector to implement these guidelines. Other members of the committee are representatives of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and Gujarat Maritime Board and chief inspector of factories.

The Alang yard fetches revenue worth crores of rupees. However, it has been posing serious threats to the marine ecosystem. A comprehensive environment management plan is being prepared to handle solid waste, and check air and water pollution in the area. The CPCB has recommended for use of incinerators to destroy combustible materials. It has also advocated for an effluent treatment plant for handling water-containing chemicals like nitrites and phosphates.

One of the guidelines is focused on maintaining safety for the people involved in the trade and a disaster management plan. Down To Earth had recently reported that several workers at Alang die in accidents. These labourers also suffer from diseases such as leprosy, malaria, cholera, respiratory problems, dysentery and tuberculosis. The government has directed pollution control agency to monitor the quality of water at Alang every week. These guidelines will also be applicable to other yards in the country.

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