HC asks for details on 172 scrap ships | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 09, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 09, 2010

HC asks for details on 172 scrap ships

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The High Court yesterday directed the government to submit by March 18 all documents on 172 ships imported for scrapping since its verdict delivered on March 17 last year in this regard.
It expressed concern over deaths of workers at ship-breaking yards.
The HC directive came after Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (Bela) filed an application in January for court directives, saying the government has been arbitrarily authorising import of ships with hazardous substances.
Upon a writ petition filed by Bela in 2008, the HC delivered a verdict on March 17 last year asking the government to close operation of all ship-breaking yards without environmental clearance.
The documents to be submitted by the government include environmental clearance certificates, no-objection certificates and letters of credit on the imported ships.
The court also directed the government to frame terms of reference giving sufficient authority to the committee formed in mid-February to monitor the activities of ship-breaking yards and take necessary steps.
The HC bench of justices Md Imman Ali and Md Abu Tariq expressed disappointment, saying the safety of workers and environment is not ensured as ship breakers are not following the rules and regulations on ship-breaking.
The court fixed March 18 for further order.
Bela in its application said arbitrary government support for this industry and lack of monitoring from the labour department caused the deaths of 23 workers and disabled 44 others in the last year alone.
The government submitted a report to the HC last week, saying 172 ships were imported for scrapping after March 17 last year, and a high-powered committee headed by the secretary to the forest and environment ministry was formed to monitor ship-breaking activities.
The HC in its verdict on March 17 last year asked the government to frame within three months necessary rules on ship-breaking based on Bangladesh's obligations under the Basel Convention 1989, the Environment Conservation Act 1995, and the Environment Conservation Rules 1997.
Upon a petition filed by Bangladesh Ship Breakers' Association on March 24, the Supreme Court stayed the HC verdict on closing operation of ship-breaking yards without environmental clearance.
Other parts of the verdict are in force.
Advocate Iqbal Kabir Litan appeared for Bela, while Deputy Attorney General Nazrul Islam Talukder stood for the government.

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