Skip to main content

Alang shipbreaking industry rep says, every industry has accidents, may be due to worker negligence

By Our Representative
In an unusual statement, a top ship cycling industry representative has sought to justify large number of deaths due to accidents occurring at the Alang shipbreaking yard, on south Saurashtra coast in Gujarat, saying, “Every industry has accidents”. Talking to a news portal, KB Tayal, vice president of the Ship Recycling Industries Association (India), Alang, said, “Some (industries) might have more (accidents) than others. Even though it happens, it might be due to negligence of workers, or of the machinery. When it happens, no problem. We pay compensation to workers and a penalty to the government.”
The statement, which should sound shocking to environmentalists, has come in the wake of the Government of India (GoI) decision to look after the affairs of ship recycling industry to the Ministry of Shipping. Currently, the Ministry of Steel is the nodal agency. Significantly, Tayal has sought to oppose the GoI move saying, it would have “”no effect on our business.” Tayal’s organization represents all companies in the business of ship recylcing in Alang and Sosiya. “They must compulsorily be members of the association before they can get permission from the Gujarat Maritime Board to begin cutting”, the site said.
The industry representative further said, GoI can make “whatever policies they have to make, but they cannot go against the industries either way… When you look at it in terms of pricing, the Ministry of Steel was better equipped for that.” Expressing apprehensions about GoI move, he added, “but the Ministry of Shipping can look into other aspects.”
Quoting environmental experts, the site commented, the decision to make Shipping Ministry responsible for ship breaking “could save lives”, adding, “This could be a rare chance for the government to reinvent a sector that has little regulation and is notorious for unsafe labour and health practices.” Mridula Chari, the author, insisted, “This could result in the creation of more ship-breaking ports modeled on the lines of the world’s largest ship-breaking centre in Alang, Gujarat.”
The site quotes senior environmentalist Rohit Prajapati to say, “Fires, contamination by such chemicals as asbestos and tributyltin and workers accidents are the biggest problems in Alang today. Pointing out that this was the major reason for the death of five persons cause by explosion due to gas leak on June 28, when the last accident took place, he suggested that the actual figures of death should be much higher than reported.
“Gujarat’s Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health says that 460 people have died since the Alang yard opened in 1983, an average of 15 each year. But activists working in the area estimate that the total number could be 50 times higher, counting the fatalities reported in small local newspapers”, the site says, quoting Prajapati to say, “If you talk to hospitals, officers with the directorate and even doctors off the record, they will admit the reality of the situation.”
But would the new GoI decision to hand over the ship recycling sector to the Ministry of Shipping become an “opportunity for the hazardous ship-breaking sector in India to reinvent itself?” Ravi Agarwal, director of Toxics Link, an NGO that has been working on the issue of toxins in ship recycling since 1992, believes as of today, things are so bad with ti that “there is no clarity on who the owners are, what proper transaction values are, when do clearances come in. It would be much better if all of this is made above board.”
However, Prajapati, who is with the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara, does not believe the move will benefit the workers. “They are building up a structure where only one department can make point in court of law,” said Prajapati. “Multiple departments can confuse the court, where you might have one department that stands against the industry. Modi had assured the industry that he would do this while campaigning.”
With an annual turnover of over Rs 2,500 crore and approximately 40,000 workers, the site says, “Ships to be scrapped are rammed into the beach at high tide. Once the tide recedes, workers begin to dismantle the ship from front to back. As they remove parts of the ship, they haul the remnants further up the beach, eventually drawing the entire ship in. The largest problem with beaching, apart from the high risk to labour, is that dangerous chemicals often leak into the sea.”
Business is certainly booming. According to data from the association, more ships are being broken at Alang today than ever before.

Comments

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.