India is working to improve its global reputation as one of the world’s top ship dismantling nations by upgrading its safety and environmental track records.
Specifically, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind approved the country’s Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 making it an Act. The move comes on the back of the country’s accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 last month.
The new act restricts and prohibits the use or installation of hazardous materials, which applies irrespective of whether a ship is meant for recycling or not.
For new ships, the prohibition on the use of hazardous materials will be immediate, while existing ships shall have a period of five years for compliance. The restriction would not be applied to warships and non-commercial ships operated by the government.
The government said that ships shall be surveyed and certified on the inventory of hazardous materials used in ships.
Furthermore, under the act, ship recycling facilities would be required to be authorized and ships will only be allowed to be recycled in authorized facilities in accordance with a ship-specific recycling plan.
Ships to be recycled in India would be required to obtain a Ready for Recycling Certificate in accordance with the HKC.
“The act imposes a statutory duty on ship recyclers to ensure safe and environmentally sound removal and management of hazardous wastes from ships. Appropriate penal provisions have been introduced in the act to deter any violation of statutory provisions,” the government said in a press release.
However, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform believes that the country is not doing enough to improve working conditions at Indian shipbreaking yards. According to recent research issued by Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), working conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Alang-Sosiya (ASSBY), India, remain poor.
The report highlighted several breaches of the national legal framework aimed at protecting workers and their occupational health and safety, including the lack of protective equipment and inappropriate safety measures at the workplace, inadequate health facilities and too long working hours.
What is more, two workers have reportedly died on the shipbreaking beach of Alang in the last quarter of this year. Two separate accidents took place at scrapping yards that have applied to be included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities and are promoted by the industry as “safe and green”, the NGO said.
In total, shipbreaking yards on South Asian beaches have claimed the lives of 19 workers so far this year, according to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s quarterly update.
Between July and September alone, eleven workers lost their lives and twenty were severely injured when breaking ships in Bangladesh and India, the report read.
Despite growing pressure from the public to recycle ships in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner, the majority of ships still end up on the beaches of South Asia.
A total of 122 ships were broken in the third quarter of 2019, and out of these, 73 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia.