20 March 2009

NO Scrapping : Sri Lanka prohibits shipbreaking

March 20, 2009 (LBO) - Sri Lanka has ruled out shipbreaking as an industry under its efforts to promote the island as a maritime hub, going against the trend in the region, according to a new national port and shipping policy.

The policy, the draft of which was released this week, cited environmental concerns and lack of tidal differences for the decision.

Previous shipping policies have mentioned shipbreaking as one of the maritime sector industries that could be promoted to take advantage of the island's geographical position close to international shipping routes.

However, no ship breaking activity emerged on the island, in sharp contrast to Sri Lanka's neighbours, especially India and Bangladesh, which have become the dumping ground for that part of the world's shipping fleet that needs to be scrapped.

Shipbreaking in India and Bangladesh has generated much controversy because of environmental pollution problems as well as worker safety concerns.

The shipbreaking yards have become notorious for poor safety standards which regularly result in the deaths of workers or serious injury.

Shipping industry officials said workers safety was one of the concerns taken into consideration in the decision to ban shipbreaking.

The new draft policy said that ship demolition work has much potential as large numbers of vessels are being sold for scrap and because developed nations are reluctant to allow shipbreaking on their coasts.

Developed countries have had to face pressure from the public as well as environmental groups to discourage shipbreaking, considered dirty and dangerous work.

The draft policy stressed that the Sri Lankan government will not encourage shipbreaking.

"Shipbreaking is known to create environmental pollution, including oil pollution," the draft policy said.

"The lack of significant tidal differences on the coasts of Sri Lanka does not facilitate ease of handling of shipbreaking activities."

The policy also said the island's coast have to be protected for the development of the tourism industry.

Source: Lankan Business Online. 20 Mar, 2009

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