Accidental ‘Mishap’ Could Tarnish Image, Fears World’s Largest Ship Breaking Yard

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The ship recycling industry in Alang, Gujarat, fears for its global image as the ‘accidental’ death of a worker – the first in decades – prompted police to file negligence claims, reports Business Standard.

Accidental death of worker

The worker died on June 3 when a steel plate cut from a ship fell on him. The police lodged a complaint against the owner, manager and security officer of the plot, and the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) subsequently issued a closure notice for the business where the worker died.

The industry protested the case and the police advice, calling on Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel to ensure a fair investigation to avoid damaging the image of the industry.

Already, as the largest ship recycling yard in India, Alang has faced stiff competition from Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which offer better ship prices to international customers. While the ideal was 45 to 50 ships per month, we receive less than 20 ships. In such a scenario, the police did not carry out a proper investigation and filed a negligence death case even though it is an accident,” said Mukesh Patel, Chairman of Shree Ram Group, in the partner unit from which the death occurred.

The plate had just been cut and was waiting to be lifted by the crane. Shop standards require that after cutting the plate, workers must stand away from it. Instead, the worker walked over to the plate and went to relieve himself when it fell on top of him in a gust of wind,” Patel said.

Ship recycling code strictly followed

The Alang Ship Recycling Industries Association said the industry operates under the regulations of the Ship Recycling Code 2013 (Revised) and the Factories Act.

The Ship Recycling Code, which has been issued by the government, only mandates five days of closure of plots for investigation in the event of death or accident. However, GMB has issued a 30-40 day closure. This will not only leave the unit workers without work or pay during this period, but will also impact the international image of the industry among customers,” said Vishnu Gupta, chairman of the association.

The industry follows the Hong Kong Convention to ensure the viability of international business, Gupta said. The Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was adopted by India and other countries in 2009. It was developed with input from member countries of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as well as the Convention of Basel on hazardous waste, of which India is a party.

Not a culpable homicide

Gupta said the Rajasthan government decided not to declare a 2019 accident at a factory a “culpable homicide” without conducting a proper investigation. “Being an industry-friendly state, Gujarat should follow suit and not classify accidental deaths as homicide,” he said.

Alang’s industry says it is becoming uncompetitive with Turkey and Bangladesh, which offer shipowners about $200 for shipbreaking and recycling, compared to about $600 in India. Alang industry’s annual vessel handling capacities, measured in terms of light displacement tonnage (ldt), have increased from 1.5 million ldt to an estimated 500,000-700,000 ldt in recent times. Of the industry.

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Source: Business Standard

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