Skip to main content

Workers at Alang in Gujarat "exposed" to toxic fumes, risk explosions when torch-cutting in T-shirts: Danish report

By Our Representative
An investigative report, claimed to be comprehensive, says that there are breaches of labour rights, workers exposed to grave risks for their health and safety, and severe environmental pollution caused by the breaking of ships in the intertidal zone of the Alang Shipbreaking Yard in Gujarat.
Released by “Danwatch”, a Denmark-based independent media and research centre that focuses on corporate social responsibility, human rights, environment and conflict areas, the report says that shipbreaking practices at Alang do not even remotely meet international standards.
Especially referring to the dismantling on Maersk Georgia and Maersk Wyoming, the two Danish ships which are currently being dismantled at Alang, the report talks of “unacceptable conditions” in the beaching facility at the shipbreaking year, which Maersk has been “praising for its alleged high standards.”
The report documents workers without contracts, who endanger their health and lives when exposed to toxic fumes, risking explosions when torch-cutting in only T-shirts.
Pointing out that Maersk’s "trial and error approach" in India is seriously flawed, Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, in a statement supporting the Danwatch report has said that “the conditions under which the Maersk ships are being broken are even worse than what we expected.”
Criticizing Maersk for its “U-turn from state-of-the-art ship recycling back to the beaching yards in India”, the Platform says, “Over many months, the Platform has shared its concerns with the shipping line. The Platform’s detailed critique of the Maersk 'Responsible Ship Recycling Standard' highlights why the standard is far too weak to ensure the health and safety of workers and to provide safeguards against pollution.”
“Not only have NGOs warned Maersk of the serious risks, the shipping line itself commissioned a report on the pitfalls of breaking ships in the intertidal zone”, the Platform says, adding, “Danish consultancy Litehauz highlighted severe pollution risks and the lack of solutions on the Alang beaches.”
The Danish consultancy talks of “huge investments to build adequate infrastructure would be necessary in Alang”, questioning “commercial viability of investing in beaching yards, especially because some of the problems are likely to be impossible to solve in the intertidal zone”, the Platform says.
“Despite the warnings, Maersk chose to ignore the concerns of environmental and human rights experts”, it points out, adding, “Maersk expects to make an extra profit of 150 million USD by selling off an estimated 70-100 ships to the beaching yards. While masking their U-turn as a ‘good deed’ for India, Maersk has not invested a single penny in new infrastructure in Alang.”
“Danish experts with whom the journalists have shared their documentation were shocked to see the serious risks for workers’ health and safety as well as the grave environmental impact of Maersk’s practices in Alang”, the Platform says, adding, “Had this happened in Denmark, the yard would have been closed on the spot, they say.”
”The Danwatch revelations clearly show the wide discrepancy between the industry’s greenwashed presentation of Alang and the factual conditions in the yards”, the Platform says.
It adds, “Members of the Danish Parliament, led by Pia Olsen Dyhr, former Minister of Trade and Transport, have requested the Environment Minister to respond to whether Maersk has put pressure on the Danish government to promote the Alang beaching yards at the European level.”
---
Download report HERE

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Modi's PRO, who served previous Congress, BJP CMs in Gujarat with "equal" competence

By Rajiv Shah
A public relations officer (PRO), even as maintaining anonymity, is supposed to “manage” reputation of his or her client, reflecting the client’s views in order to influence opinion and behaviour. A PRO is also known to use, the world over, media and communication to build, maintain, manage and plan publicity strategies and campaigns, even as dealing with enquiries from the public, particularly media, organising promotional events such as press conferences, open days, exhibitions, tours and visits. A PRO is also supposed to final touches to press statements for his or client.

Proposed expansion of Karnataka N-plant "ignores" worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima

Counterview Desk
EAS Sarma, former secretary, Government of India (GoI), in a letter addressed to secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, with copies to chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and chairman Karnataka Pollution Control Board, has said that radiation and environmental risks have been ignored in DAE’s proposal to set up Units 5 & 6 (2X700MWe) at Kaiga Nuclear Power Station in Karnataka.

80% school children are beaten up, 91% parents "approve" of it: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A recent report, prepared by researchers with the civil rights group, Agrasar, has revealed that of the 521 children from marginalized groups surveyed in Gurugram, Haryana, 80% said they are punished at school. Based on data collected from semi-urban communities in Gurugram, the report’s conclusions also take into account survey 100 parents, personal interviews with 26 children, three focus group discussions and one seasonal calendar exercise with 29 parents.

Forced child labour rampant in Uttar Pradesh sugarcane fields: Oxfam study

By Rajiv Shah
A 14-year-old boy and his older brother were hired by an agent from Bihar under the pretext of getting them a job in a shoe factory in Uttar Pradesh. The agent brought with him a dozen-odd to Uttar Pradesh under the pretext of offering work to them in a factory. Only upon arrival in Muzaffarnagar, the boys were told that they would be working in a sugarcane field.