23 February 2011

Recognising Bangladesh Shipbreaking as an Industry:

It is needless to say that the health hazards and environmental degradation, out of shipbreaking units far, far outweigh the miniscule contribution made by the elite class owners of such units to the economy of the country. Such units generate only hazardous employment opportunities for the desperate and disillusioned bottom scum of the society. Information on facts and figures of such units is not easily available; these are mostly invisible!

Prior to declaring shipbreaking as an industry and placing it under the ministry of industries, the number of these units showing up in the country's statistical books and publications, should be clearly ascertained. The claims about the so-called rise in industrial output, labour employment and income earning; can be verified. Otherwise, a clear and sound direction on safe disposal of hazardous waste as a safety health measure for all, will be missing.

All industrial units generate waste. Shipbreaking units probably top the list in health hazard waste by products, injurious chemicals, which are dumped into the sea, mainly along Faujdarhat beach. This is like putting the dangerous waste out of sight of the owners of shipbreaking units and making this hazard a huge threat to the country's tourism development and holiday spot seekers.

Hazardous waste management units should be declared mandatory for all industrial units. All wastes are injurious health, and wastes from shipbreaking probably are the most. The detailed cost, operation and monitoring system etc., need to be there, before setting up of any such unit.

Dumping of chemical and other wastes along the sea beach must be banned. Rules and regulations should cover heavy penalty for dumping wastes. An awareness campaign on health hazards from industrial waste in the port area, the branches of banks and eateries would benefit visitors.

So before the shipbreaking units start working in full vigour, there should be a review of the expected benefit and it should be compared with the environmental risks and hazards, to be caused by them. For, the country's environment is our great national resource.

Source: The Financial Express. Letter to the Editor. By Farida Sheikh (farida_s9@optimaxbd.net).  23 February 2011

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