Ship breaking yard pollution threatens extinction of hilsa | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 03, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 03, 2010

Ship breaking yard pollution threatens extinction of hilsa

Speakers tell roundtable

Share this with

Copy this link

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday said country's national fish Hilsa may go extinct in five years if ship breaking activities continue to degrade the environment.
They said 10 different species of seawater fishes have become extinct and 21 have become rare in the country due to the environmental damages caused by ship breaking yards and warned that if these activities go on more species would join the list, including the national fish.
They said these at a roundtable titled 'Ship breaking: Environment destroying and slavery activity' organised by Save Environment Movement (Paribesh Bachao Andolan) at the National Press Club in the city.
Speakers at the roundtable argued that activities that are doing more harm than good to the society and environment should not be dubbed and promoted as an industry.
"How can you call something an industry where people are breaking ships on sea beaches without following any regulations or procedures? If some people gather a pile of cots on the beach and start breaking them would you call it a cot breaking industry?" said Bangladesh Environment Lawyers' Association (BELA) Executive Director Syeda Rizwana Hasan.
Ship breakers argue there are more than 2.5 lakh workers associated in the so-called industry and would become jobless if the ship breaking activities are halted, she said, but the labour ministry has said only around 18000 workers are associated with ship breaking activities, out of which only 3500 are permanent full time workers.
"They [ship breaking company owners] are exploiting their workers. And exploitation does not equal employment," she said.
Also contrary to popular belief that ship breaking industry provides 80 percent of the required steel in the country, the ship breaking company owners themselves have said they provide around 25 percent of the total steel, which comprises around 6 to 8 lakh metric tonnes a year, added Syeda Rizwana Hasan.
Chief guest to the programme noted cultural personality Syed Hasan Imam said industry is something that creates and develops, not something that destroys.
While there must be ways to conduct ship-breaking activities in systematic and environmentally feasible ways, the ship breakers would not adopt them as that might lead to less profits, he said.
He called on the organisers to include workers of the ship-breaking sector in the campaign against the industry, as they are the one who are being exploited and are some of the biggest stakeholders in the issue.
Other discussants said the ship-breaking sector is not subject to any environmental laws or health and safety regulations for workers. They operate in a highly polluted coastal belt and the number of accidents and casualties at the yard is believed to be the highest in the region.
They called on the authorities to ensure that the ships are cleaned and uncontaminated before they are brought in to the country for breaking and the breaking activities should be done in dry dockyards following all safety rules and regulations for the workers as well as the environment.
A documentary on ship breaking activities directed by Yasmin Kabir was also shown at the programme.
Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences of Dhaka University (DU) Prof Dr Abul Bashar, Unnayandhara Trust Secretary and Save Environment Movement Member Aminur Rasul and its Chairmen Abu Naser Khan also spoke.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone and Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Banglalink:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Share this with

Copy this link

Top News

Top