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

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”