Ship-breaking or death game? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 17, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 17, 2010

Ship-breaking or death game?

When world leaders gathered at Copenhagen to compensate the nations affected by environmental pollution and to find out some alternatives or to reduce, to some extent at least, carbon emission to save the planet as human habitat from global climate change consequences, we are simply playing our death-games at Sitakundo ship breaking zone defying all warnings and dangers. In an explosion on 26 December last year while dismantling the oil tanker MT AGATE in Rahim Diamond Steel Product, a shipyard owned by one Hazi Abdur Rahim at Madambibirhat, 4 people were killed on the spot and 2 more later and many others were injured. In the last three months, 13 people have died in three separate accidents and 22 in the last one year . Since 1984, about 1, 000 people died and 6,000 injured in the ship breaking accidents at Sitakundo. At present 37 shipyards are operating at Sitakundo with about 4,000 workers. According to The Daily Star (01/01/2010) and the Daily Prothom Alo (28/12/2009) , about 3,000 ships are waiting globally to be dismantled most of which will surely enter into Bangladesh and Sitakundo will grab its share, no doubt.
While other nations are shrinking their ship breaking business, imposing legal barrier on toxic ship dismantling considering possible harms to human life and environment, how foolish we must be to become world's largest rejected ship breaker country. With the poor innocent workers' lives, a few unscrupulous businessmen are prospering. Whose interest do we serve to dredge all the wastes and garbage from the corners of the globe? How ridiculous it sounds when someone occupying a high office terms the notorious business of toxic ship dismantling as the fuelling into our fragile economy, despite its little harm. The desperate shipyard owners neither pay heed to the directives of the apex court nor bother about the warnings and directions by Explosive Department in scrapping an old ship. They hardly feel interested to spend money to clean petroleum and flammable substance off a tanker before dismantling a ship. They never ensure safety of the workers, their insurance, treatment, compensation etc. Besides, the owners are indiscriminately felling down the trees planted by the forest department to make their yard. Coastal areas are being deforested, water is being polluted by the waste substance from oil tankers, species of fish and animals are being extinguished and air is being polluted by ammonia and CFC gas emitting from the toxic ships all these are endangering the environment and the ecological balance in the area. But the culprits always go scot-free!

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