4 ship-breaking yards sued | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 22, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 22, 2010

No Environmental Clearance

4 ship-breaking yards sued

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The Department of Environment (DoE) yesterday sued four ship-breaking yards in Chittagong for causing pollution just days after the commerce ministry decided to allow dismantling vessels built with toxic substances.
Ignoring an order of the High Court, ministry has recently relaxed its import policy allowing scrappers to import such vessels. None of over 100 ship-breaking yards in the country has any facilities to clean ships built with substances like asbestos and PCB.
Every ship-breaking yard has to have a clearance certificate from the government saying while dismantling the vessels it would not pollute the environment.
None of the 69 shipyards operating currently has such certificates. The DoE served notices upon them to have the certificate after the HC ordered the government last year to shut those scrappers.
Fifty-seven of the yards have so far applied to the department for the clearance certificates.
But 12 did not apply for it and for the first time the government filed cases against four yards yesterday. Filing of cases against eight others is underway, sources say.
DoE investigator Saiful Ashrab filed the cases against the ship-breaking yards with Sitakunda Police Station and the Environmental Court.
The accused ship-breaking yards include G Steel Limited of Bhatiari, Makkah Ship-breaking Yard and Recycling Centre of Middle Sonaichhari, Chittagong Ship-breakers and Recycling Limited in Madam Bibir Hat and Habib Steel Limited in Shital Pur in Sitakunda.
The yards were sued as their authorities hardly bothered to respond to the DoE notices asking them to collect environmental clearance after ensuring pollution protecting measures, alleged the plaintiff in the case.
He filed cases against 14 high officials of those yards including the chairmen and the directors.
In the cases, Saiful Ashrab alleged the yards were developed without environmental clearance or required mitigation measures and facilities for removing liquid and solid hazardous waste during cleaning and dismantling the ships.
DoE Chittagong Division Acting Director Mostafizur Rahman Akhand said the department started issuing notices regarding environment clearance in March last year after the HC issued its directive.
"Three and a half months passed after the given time for applying for the certificate, but the owners and management concerned have yet to apply for it," he said.
Insiders say 1,333 ships were dismantled between 1997 and 2009 on the coast of Sitakunda. Over 18,000 permanent workers are engaged in this industry without maintaining minimum safety measures.
At least 53 workers were killed in accidents at different ship-breaking yards since 2006.

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