Alang is a town in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. It is recognized as a leader in ship breaking and recycling industry. In an irony of sorts, this industry has been saved by the global recession. Ship owners see more sense in sending an aging ship to the scrap yard ship than covering its insurance and maintenance costs. According to various estimates, over the last 10 months, scrappers at Alang have received and dismantled about 280 ships, up from 163 during the same period in 2008.
This has been a win-win situation for ship owners and scrappers. Ship owners can dismantle their aged ships cheaply and scrappers can avail the financial benefits!
A flea market has sprung up at the edge of Alang that sells equipments and fittings taken from the ship. Goodies include motors, cutlery sets, and lifeboats at bargain prices.
“Last year I bought a torque wrench here for about 3,500 rupees (£44), which would have cost me 50,000 on the open market,” Vasant Pachal, an engineering workshop owner from the city of Vadodara, recently told The Hindustan Times while browsing at the market. “Apart from the great deals, I get to see the latest in technology every time I come here.”
These do not come without a cost. The environment and hapless laborers are the ones who pay a hefty price. While the toxic gases harm the environment, injuries and fatalities affect laborers working in such dangerous conditions.
“These workers,say that if they want to save their families they have to die themselves,” he said. “The main problem is that there is no regulation, there is no law. These people need to be given ID cards and registered as workers. When an accident happens these people are not in the log-book.” says Dwarika Nath Rath, an activist.
Why cannot we have policies and procedures in place and enforce them?
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