Skip to main content

Environmental group Toxics Watch Alliance opposes shipbreaking yard at Mundra, asks GoI to scrap project

By Our Representative
Ahead of the crucial environmental public hearing (EPH) of the Adani Port and Special Economic Zone Ltd. for the proposed ship recycling facility at village Tunda, taluka Mundra, district Kutch, scheduled for July 30, 2013, top environmental NGO Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA) has in a strongly-worded letter to the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on ship breaking, Union Ministry of Steel, asked for not allowing the proposed project.The TWA has made its conclusions on the basis of the what it calls "lessons learnt from the destruction of coastal environment at Alang beach", which allegedly "create a compelling logic against yet another ship breaking beach in India."
The July 30, 2013 public hearing for Adani’s proposed ship breaking facility is based on the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prepared in May 2013 by Mecon Limited, a Government of India Undertaking under the Union Ministry of Steel. Earlier, the Adani group had entered into an agreement with the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) for developing port and related activities at Mundra but its plan to enter the ship-building business did not materialise. Now it is proposing to re-enter the business.
The TWA has been involved in research and advocacy with regard to hazardous waste trade and has been an applicant in the Supreme Court, before Parliamentary Committees and relevant UN bodies. The letter has been written by senior activist Gopal Krishna of the TWA.
Krishna claims, apprehensions were expressed "that the sinking of Panama flagged MV Rak Carrier carrying on board 60,000 tonnes of coal for Adani Enterprise Limited at Mumbai on August 4, 2011 may have been staged to claim insurance money for its cargo of coal on board." He wonders, "The ship sank and caused oil spill. Was it an exercise meant to test waters and the regulatory strength of agencies involved? This may be looked into. The matter with regard to MV Rak is before the National Green Tribunal."
The proposed ship recycling facility will handle ships to recover about 300,000 tonnes per year of various materials. It will be located near the Mundra West Port off Vandh village in Mundra taluka at an aerial distance of about 16 km south-west of Mundra town. The project is within the port limits notified as Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The proposed ship recycling facility measures 40.7432 hectare adjacent to the existing Mundra West Port.
Krishna notes, "Citing massive pollution as a reason, Sachana shipbreaking plots in Jamnagar district, Gujarat, has been closed as per the order dated November 22, 2011 from the Office of Chief Forest Conservator, Gujarat government. The order is specifically meant 'to cancel the plots allotted of Sachana ship braking yard. These plots are in the land of Forest / Marine Sanctuary'."
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.”
The activist underlines, "These observations are quite relevant for the proposed ship-breaking operations in the coastal environment of Mundra West Port given the fact that it is admitted that 'at present most of the land is still submerged and only a minor portion is located in the inter-tidal zone'.”
Earlier, Kheti Vikas Sewa Trust and Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) had sent complaints to Union Ministry of Environment and Forests regarding "severe impact upon environmental safety and integrity in the Mundra Port and SEZ Limited area committed by the Adani company in question." The Ministry constituted a Committee for inspection of the Adani Port and SEZ Ltd., Mundra, Gujarat. The Committee’s terms of reference is relevant in this case as well since by implication it underlines why Adanis' proposed ship breaking facility too should not come up in this ecologically fragile zone.
The committee, led by well-known environmentalist Sunita Narayan, examined the allegations regarding bunding/diversion/blocking of creeks and reclamation etc., and distortion of original High Tide Line (HTL), the HTL submitted by the proponent and HTL of the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), compliance to the conditions of the Environmental Clearance (EC) and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance granted, the destruction of mangroves and leveling of sand dunes, and the likely impacts on agriculture due to ingress of salinity.
Pointing out that these concerns are manifestly pertinent for the proposed ship breaking facility, Krishna says, "It is clear that in a tactical and clever manner the company has taken environmental clearance for its various projects in the proposed region in installments by outwitting the regulatory agencies. This ploy is apparent when one reads in its claim in the Draft EIA report that 'APSEZL had received Environmental and CRZ Clearance for Water Front Development Clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India, vide letter no.10-47 / 2008 – IA-III dated 12th January, 2009 and addendum dated 19th January, 2009.'"
Krishna questions the Technical EIA Guidance Manual for Ship breaking prepared for the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests terming it myopic. The manual states, “The economics of the system was very straightforward - the owner receives money for his ship; the breaker receives enough money for his scrap to pay his expenses and make a profit.”
Krishna comments, "This straightforward economics does not include the human and environmental cost of the hazardous ship breaking activity. Adani has been in the shipbreaking business in USA. US is a non-party to Basel Convention unlike India and has adopted a policy to transfer its obsolete ships to countries like India. Its attempts faced legal challenge in the case of SS Norway, SS Independence and Exxon Valdez."
Noting that the beaching method of the Indian sub-continent relies heavily on low labour cost, since it involves very little mechanisation, the activist says, "The beaching method which Adanis propose in Mundra is fatally flawed. The four fatal flaws of the beaching method for ship breaking include: cranes cannot be placed alongside ship, lack of access by emergency vehicles and equipment, no possibility for containment and coastal zone, intertidal zone is environmentally sensitive and managing hazardous wastes in the intertidal zone can never be environmentally sound."
Suggesting that the Adanis' shipbuilding yard will only add to the "colonisation" of Gujarat beaches by foreign shipowners, the activist believes, this type of colonisation has been supported by Nikos Mikelis, head of the Marine Pollution Prevention and Ship Recycling Section of International Maritime Organisation (IMO), who argues that it was "neither logical nor ethical to stop sending ships to South Asia".
Krisha comments, this demonstrates "complete disregard to the fragile coastal environment which has been heavily contaminated and it is crying for remediation. The way Alang beach has been colonized by the foreign ship owners in the same way Mundra too is sought to be handed over to shipping companies from the industrialized countries for dumping their end-of-life ships against the cardinal principal of hazardous waste management."
He further argues, "Permitting free trade in hazardous wastes like end-of-life ships is anti-national, anti-nature and anti-worker. It is well known that waste follows the path of least resistance. Indian regulatory agencies have either failed to see through the linguistic corruption being indulged in by foreign ship owning countries and companies to bulldoze hazardous wastes in the name of recycling or they are colluding with IMO which is undermining UN’s Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal hard earned by developing countries like India at the behest of the traditional enemies of this Convention."
"The steel scrap generated from ship recycling contributes to around 1% of India’s domestic steel demand and is primarily a source of raw material for the re-rolling mills which convert this scrap to mainly produce rods and bars which find application in construction industry. Ship breaking activities contribute to total scrap steel supply and a significant number of re-rolling mills are increasingly dependent on them. This has also given birth to the issue of radioactive steel because of which the secondary steel products from India are globally under scrutiny", he adds.
A copy of the TWA's letter has been sent, among others, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union minister of steel Beni Prasad Verma, Union minister of commerce and industry Anand Sharma, Union minister of shipping G K Vasan, Union defence minister AK  Antony, and Union minister of environment and forests Jayanthi Natarajan.

Comments

TRENDING

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Is sacrilege charge against Punjab Dalits any different from Pak blasphemy cases?

Lakhbir Singh, his wife By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  There is no doubt that Sikhism actually was a revolt against the Brahmanical system and superstition. Guru Granth Saheb is perhaps the only Holy Book which contains matters from different religions as well as those of various Sufi saints, including Kabir, Ravidas, Baba Farid and others. The aim of Sikhism was to create an egalitarian society, and, definitely, Punjab that way is far better than many other States in India, where violence against Dalits is rampant.

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.

How are Tripura Muslims responsible for attacks in Bangladesh?: 'Concerned' citizens

Counterview Desk  Calling it a “retaliation” of Bangladesh violence, several “concerned citizens”*, including Magsaysay award winning social activist and academic Sandeep Pandey and PV Rajagopal of the Sarvodaya Samaj, have said that the recent attacks on Muslim community in different areas of Tripura is a the reflection of “growing trend of using violence against another community.”

Shabana Azmi joins Pak physicist Hoodbhoy to condemn B'desh anti-minority violence

By Our Representative  Several well-known South Asian activists and public figures of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives have expressed “deep distress” by the spate of violence and killings in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashami. “Attacks on minorities are a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society and bring a bad name to the Government”, they said in a joint statement.