Bending rules in the ship-breaking industry | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 10, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 10, 2010

Editorial

Bending rules in the ship-breaking industry

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IT is difficult to understand, far less appreciate, how skirting clear HC directives to the contrary, the government has altered an import policy order which would have involved two pre-cautionary steps: one, authentic pre-cleaning certificate from the exporter obtained from an agency of the state of origin certifying that a scrap ship is hazard-free; and two, the importing company in turn will then submit the clearance at our end to facilitate entry of the ship into our territorial waters.
Now, in terms of the relaxation, the company selling the scrap ship will provide a certificate saying that the ship has been cleaned of all toxic substances and its export will take place accordingly. We would like to know if there is any cross-checking mechanism or verification of the claim for hazard-free status of the ship on the part of our environmental officials on the basis of which a scrap ship could be turned away if found hazardous. The commerce minister has, of course, assured us of a verification by the Department of Environment to ensure that the imported ships headed for the breaking yards were really cleaned according to the certification.
We discern some kind of a big business approach across the board to the issue at the expanse of environmental concerns for the country importing scrap ships as well as safety considerations for the workers in the ship breaking yards. Strangely, even when the exporter had to provide the clearance, it was not legally binding and 'no one could be sued for providing false information'. This is indicative of an existence of not just strong lobbies but also collusive lobbies calling for an updating of the relevant international convention and greater vigil at the state level, particularly in the developing world.
For, the Basel Convention, 1989 which clearly stipulates that no country can export or import toxic wastes or ships containing toxic substances is being violated making a mockery of international standards. We have a history of toxic ships or ships laden with toxic substances having been dumped inside our territory and workers in the yards meeting with lethal accidents. This is an issue that evidently needs closer national and international attention for resolution.

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