Skip to main content

Gujarat's Alang shipbreakers "earn" more than elsewhere in the world at the cost of hazardous work conditions

A ship being manually pulled to the shore at Alang
By Our Representative
In one of the sharpest indictments of the Alang Shipbreaking Yard, situated on the south Saurashtra coast of Gujarat, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, in an online exposure titled "Asia's ship graveyards", has said that "ship owners earn more money from selling their vessels to scrapyards" at Alang than anywhere else in the world, and they do it at the cost of making workers work in extremely hazardous conditions.
"While a ton of steel will fetch around $150 in Europe, in China it's worth $300 and in India $500", DW says, even as pointing towards how this is done by exploiting workers.
Hazardous handiwork at the shipyard
Calling it the "largest ship recycling facility in the world", where workers are made to "dismantle container ships and passenger tankers along a 10-kilometer stretch of beach", DW says, "Some 35,000 people work at the shipyard in Alang, India, most of whom are migrants or unskilled day labourers."
It adds, "At low tide, the old ships are driven as close to shore as possible before being dragged onto land by men with ropes."
Providing details, alongside several photographs to visually explain what it says, according to DW, the workers are involved in hazardous handiwork on a degrated beach. "Unlike in Europe and the United States, where machines do most of the dirty work, Asian shipyards often lack power tools. Workers there generally use little more than blow torches and hammers to scrap a ship." That is the reason why "accidents are not uncommon" at Alang, it adds.
The ship's final resting place
Pointing towards "inadequate protective measures", DW says, "No safety goggles, no steel-toed boots - scrapyard workers in Asia put their health at risk every day." How poorly does the workers' health safety system operates is clear from the fact that, says DW, "The nearest hospital in Alang, India, is 50 kilometers away. A modest first-aid station from the Red Cross can only provide sparse medical care."
Damage to environment -- and people
Referring to "damage to the environment - and people", DW says, "Before the yards at Alang, India, were put into operation, the coastal town enjoyed clean, beautiful beaches. Now lax regulations concerning the handling of heavy metals have left the beaches contaminated with asbestos and oil. Time and again, workers fall victim to poisoning from the gases that escape."
Showing how workers in Alang "sort old ship machinery parts", DW believes, time has come to expedite a European Union "regulatory push" for all the yards "where European ships are allowed to be dismantled." This is particularly important because, says DW, because "Yards in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh take up 60 per cent of the ships that are decommissioned."
The degraded beach
"The average life span of an ocean liner is around 30 years", DW notes. "After that, it's off to the junkyard." It quotes he NGO Shipbreaking Platform's estimate which says that "1,026 ships were recycled worldwide last year - 641 of which were taken apart on the coasts of Asia", adding, "When big ocean freighters are taken out of commission, they usually end up in Asian scrap yards."

Comments

TRENDING

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.

'Dargah site was a temple': Claim in Gujarat following post-Babri verdict demands in UP

By Rajiv Shah  Will Gujarat also see demands to replace mosques and dargahs with Hindu temples? It would seem so, if a new fact-finding team conclusion is any indication. Apprehending the “danger” of communal conflagration, it has cited the claim on a 15th century dargah was originally a Hindu temple – allegedly quite on line with what has been happening in UP following the Supreme Court verdict on Babri Mosque.

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal*  At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

India reaches 8th of 10 stage genocide: US Muslim advocacy group raises 'alert'

By Hena Zuberi* India has reached the 8th stage of genocide with the persecution of the Muslim community. Stating this, Professor Greg Stanton, who heads Genocide Watch, declared a Genocide Emergency Alert for India today at Justice For All online briefing.

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.

Why Church in India today needs a Rutilio Grande, martyred for stance on social justice

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  For the people of El Salvador, January 22, 2022 will be more than just a red-letter day. Three of their sons, Jesuit Fr Rutilio Grande and his two lay associates 72-year-old Manuel Solorzano and 15-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus (and Italian Franciscan missionary Fr Cosme Spessotto who was also martyred) will be beatified in San Salvador.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Gender insensitive? Model Gujarat's cyclone relief package ignores 40,000 fisherwomen

CSJ volunteers talking to fisherwomen By Rajiv Shah  A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) note on the Gujarat government’s compensation package to the victims of the devastating Tauktae cyclone, which hit the coastal belt of Saurashtra's Amerli, Rajula, Una, and Gir-Somnath districts in May 2021, has said, the relief offered was so terribly inadequate that many of the fisherfolk were not able to fish for the rest of the year.

Stop harassment, release Kashmir rights defender Khurram Parvez: Global NGO

By Our Representative  Ahead of his hearing on January 21, 2022, CIVICUS , a global civil society alliance with more than 10,000 members worldwide, has called upon the Government of India to “immediately and unconditionally” release human rights defender Khurram Parvez. “The judicial harassment he is facing highlights the repressive environment for activists and critics in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir”, it said in a statement.