Lok Sabha passes Bill: ‘New era for ship recycling in India’

Avinash Nair
Ship recycling, sip industry in india, Recycling of Ships Bill, Gujarat 

Members of the Ship Recycling Industries Association (SRIA) celebrate in Bhavnagar on Tuesday. Photo courtesy: SRIA

Ship-recyclers at Alang on Tuesday burst crackers to celebrate the passing of the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha. They said the Bill will help attract naval vessels and other old ships from Japan and European countries, which avoided Alang so far, due to environmental concerns.

The Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, accedes to the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. Ship-breaking activities at Alang hit a 10-year low when only 219 ships arrived at the yard in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, to be broken and recycled.

“This Bill will open doors to those ships which are not coming to India for recycling. The owners of vessels in Europe and Japan, who are currently sending their ships to China or Turkey to be dismantled because of environmental and labour safety issues, will now send it to India. So, this Bill will mark a new era for ship recycling in India,” said Haresh Parmar, a ship-breaker at Alang and Honourary Joint-Secretary of Ship Recycling Industries Association (SRIA). The members of SRIA on Tuesday celebrated the passing of the Bill near their office in Bhavnagar.

Claiming that the new Bill will help Alang yard attract old naval vessels too, Parmar said, “As far as the Indian government is concerned, this Bill will open the doors for adopting the Hong Kong Certification (HKC) which will bring about a major environmental change at Alang. Out of 130 shipbreakers at Alang, about 95 have HKC, that is their yards are certified for green recycling standards set up by the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.”

“The ship-recycling industry is a labour intensive sector, but it is susceptible to concerns relating to environmental safety. The existing regulatory framework, namely the Ship Breaking Code (Revised) 2013, governs the ship recycling activity in India and lays down the standards for environmental protection of workers’ safety. However, the said Code does not provide penalties for contravention of the provisions of the Code or deal with restrictions and prohibitions on use of hazardous material on ships,” stated the Bill which sets standards and lays down a statutory mechanism for enforcement of the standards.

Recyclers at Alang said that Bill will also pave the way for a long pending project where the Japan International Cooperation Agency will be spending around Rs 700 crore to upgrade the recycling yards at Alang. A loan agreement in this regard was signed in September 2017.