Absence of specific and strict rules as well as lack of coordination among the ministries concerned left the Department of Environment (DoE) helpless in monitoring operation of ship-breaking yards without clearance, said officials at DoE Chittagong.
Meanwhile, activists of different non-government organisations (NGO) and owners of ship-breaking yards expressed mixed reaction over the High Court order that directed the government to close operation of all ship- breaking yards in two weeks for running without environmental clearance.
None of the 36 ship-breaking yards at Sitakunda have taken clearance from DoE, a report submitted to the government recently revealed.
DoE Chittagong officials said the applications of some shipyards for clearance from DoE were also rejected since they couldn't produce necessary documents.
An official preferring anonymity said owners of the shipyards could manage the government high-ups to run the business without permission from DoE.
In this regard, DoE Inspector Saiful Ashraf said seven new firms have submitted applications for environmental clearance in one month.
All the applications were sent to the DoE Dhaka office as usual for approval.
Newly appointed director of DoE Chittagong Abdus Sobhan said they are yet to receive any directive from the government to stop operation of the yards.
Bangladesh Ship Breakers' Association (BSBA) President Jafar Alam said if the government shuts down the yards in two weeks it might create labour unrest in the sector.
At least 30,000 workers are directly involved with the ship- breaking yards while around 20 lakh people are involved with the sector directly or indirectly, he said.
Jafar said they would soon submit applications to the DoE seeking the clearance.
Muhammad Ali Shahin, an official of Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) and Focal Person of NGO Platform on Ship-Breaking, hailed the court directive.
He said ship-breaking should be operated in container yards or in dry-dock yards, not on the beach.
Director (Programme) Syeda Rizwana Hasan, one of the three who filed the petition for Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (Bela) prompting the court order, emphasised the need to frame rules on ship-breaking in line with the Basel Convention 1989, Environment Conservation Act 1995 and Environment Conservation Rules 1997 as ordered by the court.
“It was a historic order to streamline the ship-breaking yards,” she said while talking to this correspondent last evening.
She urged the administration to execute the court order to close operation of all ship-breaking yards within two weeks with the help of law enforcers.
The name of the shipyards now operating without clearance in Chittagong are Ziri Subedar Shipyard, Mamun Enterprise (S. Trading Corporation), Pakhiza Enterprise, Jamuna Ship-breaking Yard, Sultana Shipyard, SN Corporation, S. Trading Shipyard, Lucky Shipyard, Kabir Steel 1, Kabir Steel 2, Sajeel Shipyard, Foyzun Shipyard, Rahmania Shipyard, Ahmed-Mujtaba Shipyard, Six Star Shipyard, Siko Shipyard, Enterprise Shipyard, Namrin Enterprise, ZN Enterprise, Golden Shipyard, ARL Shipyard, PHP Ship Recycling Industry, Habib Steel Shipyard, NEW Ambia Shipyard, MAC Corporation, Sagorika Shipyard, Harun Steel Shipyard, GL Ship-breaking Yard, Royal Shipyard, JS Trading Shipyard, Taher and Brothers, Mahin Enterprise, Mabiya Enterprise, Taniya Enterprise, F & F Ship Recycling Yard, and an unnamed one owned by SM Al Mamun, son of lawmaker Abul Kashem.