16 October 2011

Government wants more time to finalise draft shipbreaking policy!

The government has sought a 6-month time extension to the High Court for finalizing the draft shipbreaking policy, officials said Tuesday.

Ministry of Industries (MoI) sent a letter to the Registrar of High Court Wednesday requesting for the 6 months' time extension so that the ministry can take suggestions from the experts, stakeholders and business bodies regarding the finalization of the draft ship-breaking policy.

"We need time to finalize the draft policy and on behalf of the government, we have made the appeal of time extension through the Attorney General," MoI Additional Secretary ABM Khorshed Alam told the FE.

MoI has launched the draft policy on its website on October 4 for a month in a bid to elicit public opinion and suggestions for formulation of the draft policy, he added.

"It takes time for maintaining the procedures and we have sought the additional time considering the present situation so that we can receive the opinions of stakeholders, experts and business bodies," he said.

Earlier in August, the Supreme Court agreed to allow more time for the $1.5 billion ship scrap industry to meet tougher safety and environmental rules aimed at protecting workers and reducing the level of pollution, allowing them to operate until October 12.

In a ruling in March this year, the High Court relaxed import of scrap vessels provided that the scrap yards implement a series of environmental and toxic material management regulations.

The government has given shipbreaking the status of an industry in February this year as part of a long term plan to promote labour standards and safe toxic management.

The shipbreaking industry is the country's main source of iron and steel. Private re-rolling mills and steel mills melt the scraps dismantled from ships to produce mild steel rods, bars and angles.

There are now 120 shipbreaking yards based on the coastline of Sitakundu near the port city of Chittagong. According to Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association, at least 64 shipyards have implemented sound toxic management ordered by the high court.

Source: The Financial Express. By Monira Munni. 6 October 2011

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