The NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Transport and Environment (T&E) have criticized Maersk Group’s decision to beach their end-of-life vessels in Alang, India. But, Four of the 167 ship recycling yards have won compliance status with a global regime that seeks to ensure that redundant ships are disposed of safely and in an environmentally sound manner, says a report in the Livemint.
The recycling yards are located on the coast of Alang-Sosiya in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district, the world’s largest stretch of ship-breaking beaches.
The NGO denounced Maersk Group’s decision to beach their end-of-life vessels in India. The world’s leading container ship owner was previously guided by a progressive policy on ship recycling: its old vessels were dismantled in modern ship recycling facilities in either China, Turkey or Europe. Maersk’s decision to resort to the low-cost beaching method in India undermines European efforts to improve global conditions and the company’s position as industry leader.
The Platform had welcomed Maersk’s initial idea to set up a long-term cooperation with stakeholders in India provided that the objective was to set up a modern ship recycling facility in line with the safety and environmental requirements set out by the European Ship Recycling Regulation.
However, the hasty decision to sell off end-of-life vessels to Alang shows that the decision is merely driven by profits. In times of low freight rates, Maersk intends to boost its profits by selling to yards that do not comply with European standards.
Meanwhile, RL Kalthia Ship Breaking Pvt. Ltd, Priya Blue Industries Pvt. Ltd, Leela Ship Recycling Pvt. Ltd and Shree Ram Group have been issued compliance status, marking the first time that such recognition has been given to ship breakers in South Asia.
It goes a long way in dispelling doubts about the beaching method of breaking ships practised along a 10-km stretch of Alang-Sosiya, often subject to criticism for its lax safety and health aspects, said experts.
Recently, the Gujarat State government has announced 'Ship Recycling Policy-2015' to give a boost to the ship recycling industry at Alang, Asia's biggest ship-breaking yard which is passing through a slump.
The policy extends utilisation period of ship-breaking plots to 10 years from five years, and provides for resizing, readjustment, realignment of the plots to enable accommodation of bigger vessels in a safe manner.
"Ship recycling is an eco-friendly activity which provides direct-indirect employment to a large number of people. Ship recycling industry fulfils 1-2 per cent steel demand of India and saves substantial amount of natural resources, investment and carbon footprint," says the government.
Alang has 10 km long sea shore with presence of 167 plots that are give on lease by Gujarat Maritime Board. Ship breaking activity kicked off here in year 1983, and so far over 7,000 ships are recycled which has produced 54 million LDT steel.