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Bill for regulated recycling of ships passed by Parliament

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MPs raise concerns over environmental impact, workers’ safety

Parliament on Monday passed a Bill that provides for the regulated recycling of ships, which is in accordance with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 adopted by the International Maritime Organisation.

Passed by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote, the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 lays out rules for existing facilities and is applicable to all ships registered in India or entering Indian waters, apart from warships and other government ships. The ships should not have hazardous material, for which a national authority would be created to carry out checks.

Introducing the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the 7,500-km-long coastline gives the opportunity to expand ship-breaking facilities, which would lead to creation of jobs. He said India accounts for 30% of the breaking that happens currently, with 300 ships being recycled here every year. He said 99% of recycling happens in Gujarat’s Alang ship-breaking yard.

While all speakers apart from CPI MP Binoy Viswam supported the Bill, MPs raised concerns about the environmental impact of dismantling ships on beaches as well as health and safety hazards for workers engaged in the task.

Congress MP Amee Yagnik said the Hong Kong convention that is ratified by the Bill is “very diluted” as “it does not take care of the safety of workers”.

“It does not take into account the environmental safety in that area and also does not mention the waste trade which is happening,” she said, while welcoming the Bill.

Mr. Viswam said the Bill would lead to India becoming a “dumping yard” for the West.

“Many countries that were travelling in this direction are now doing a re-think. For example, China was doing it and their people, the government and party officials, are saying that it was a mistake. While many of the countries in the world, having learnt lessons from the past, are trying to correct themselves, we are following that wrong path. That wrong path would affect India’s sovereignty, environment and the workers’ rights,” he said.

In his reply to the concerns, Mr. Mandaviya said the Bill had been brought to regulate the already-existing industry to make it safer for the environment and workers. Quoting Chanakya’s Arthashastra, the Minister said India had a long maritime history and that there was a concept of “naav adhyaksh” 2,000 years ago.

Mr. Mandaviya, who said he comes from Bhavnagar where Alang is located, said his family’s income was “indirect/direct” related to the industry. He said the Parliamentary Standing Committee should visit the yard and others to see the improvements in workers’ safety. He said 95 of the Alang yard’s 131 plots were already compliant with the provisions of the Hong Kong convention.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 2:02:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/bill-for-regulated-recycling-of-ships-passed-by-parliament/article30259706.ece

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