India to ban new ship-breaking yards, curb coastal construction
Note: Even as a new ship has recently left Singapore to sail under its own steam towards Alang. The ship is currently under charter to Peace Boat, Tokyo, Japan. The ships is laden with asbestos and PCBs since it was built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering, Govan, Scotland and rebuilt at Genoa 1964/5 and Eleusis 1997/8, various refits over the years. Its passenger capacity is 1050. Its owners, Topaz International, Greece remain oiblivious of the fact that on 1 May 2008 the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) released the Coastal Management Zone (CMZ) that is to replace the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) that has been in effect since 1991for the 8,000 kilometres of coast in India.
The pdf of the CMZ draft notification can be downloaded below or from the MoEF site.
This notification entails a decision on prohibiting new ship-breaking yards might be a small step taken on account of the environment, given the complete lack of implementation regimes in India to ensure clean ship-breaking.
Ship-breakers, however, are not happy with the development. “When the Supreme Court has allowed ship-breaking activity, subject to certain guidelines, why should the ministry of environment and forests impose restrictions on this?” asked Pravin Nagarsheth, president of industry body Iron Steel Scrap and Ship Breakers Association of India.
The government’s has outlined it plan in the draft coastal management zone (CMZ) notification published in the gazette on 1 May by the ministry of environment and forests.
“The draft CMZ notification imposes restrictions on the development of infrastructure along the country’s coast,” clarified D.T. Joseph, who was India’s shipping secretary between June 2003 and December 2005 as per Mint news reports.
This plan is aimed at conserving and improving the management of coastal resources, protecting coastal stretches from the risk of inundation from extreme weather and geological events, and strengthening the livelihood security of coastal populations.
After it becomes law, CMZ notification will supersede the coastal regulation zone notification of February 1991, which imposed restrictions on industrialization on specific coastal stretches.
Meanwhile, global maritime regulator International Maritime Organization (IMO), is working on a code for the ship recycling industry.
After the code comes into force by September 2009, the global shipping industry would have to send their ships to India for breaking, Nagarsheth of ship breakers association claimed.
“This is because, qualitatively, we will be a much better recycler of ships than our biggest rival Bangladesh if the Supreme Court guidelines are implemented fully,” he said.
From being the world’s top ship-breaker some 10 years ago, the Alang yard has lost ground to Bangladesh due to higher taxes and tighter regulatory controls in India.
These two countries account for about 90% of the ships that are dismantled after serving out their economical life.
At a recent meeting of Basel Convention in June 2008 in Bali, Indonesia, environmental groups criticised IMO for promoting the status quo with regard to the ongoing contamination. They sought decontamination and reclamation of Alang beach for future generations.