05 December 2011

New rules for shipbreaking to be ready in 10 days: Shipbreakers ask for relaxing conditions, fines

The ministry of industries said on Sunday that it would make by December 14 a new set of rules to make the shipbreaking and ship recycling industry green and eco-friendly.

A High Court order requires the ministry to make the rules ready by the deadline, industries minister Dilip Barua told the stake holders at a discussion at a city hotel.

The ministry secretary KH Masud Siddique chaired the session attended by ship breakers and all the other stake holders.

The High Court had earlier ordered the secretary of the industries ministry to appear before it with a copy of gazetted copy of the new set of rules.

The new set of rules would require the shipbreaking and re-cycling industry to ensure  occupational safety and health of workers, risk management, eco-friendly management of wastes.

The rules would stipulate fines and compensations for violations.

The court order also requires the ministry to establish a ‘Ship Building and Ship Recycling Board’ comprising representatives from other ministries and departments to provide ‘One Stop Service’ to the industry.

Shipbreakers described the conditions, fines and compensation stipulated in the new set of rules for violations as attempt to stifle or shut down the shipbreaking industry.

They requested the industries ministry to soften some of the conditions and withdraw or reduce the fines and compensations proposed to make them consistent with the penalties set in the Labor Law 2006.

They termed the proposed rules for the shipbreaking industry discriminatory compared to those for the other industries.

Dilip said that the government would not create any antagonistic situation for the shipbreaking industry.

Rather, the governments wants, he said, to help the entrepreneurs run their industries in an environment friendly manner by ensuring safety and health of the workers.

The government is serious to make the shipbreaking industry green and eco-friendly at any cost, said the minister.

There would be no compromise in bringing the violators to the book, he said.

Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry president AK Azad said that the new rules should stipulate strict provisions to ensure safety and health of the workers and conservation of the environment.

He said that some of the shipbreakers did not comply with the law in providing proper compensation to the worker who died in accidents while working in hazardous shipbreaking yard conditions.

Azad said that the proposed set of rules should make it compulsory for the shipbreaking yard owners to provide life insurance coverage to workers.

He suggested for regular employment of the workers to ensure their entitlement to gratuity and other facilities.

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce Ministry ABM Abul Kashem, MP, however, described some of the proposed rules stipulating fines and compensations as antagonistic to the interest of the shipbreaking industry.

He said these factors would hamper the industry.

Kashem described shipbreaking industry as ‘a growing industry’ employing 30,000 workers which supplied most of the raw materials for around 20,000 factories across country including steel mills.

He said that some quarters were trying to destroy the growing shipbreaking industry in the name environment.

‘It seems that the new rules would be designed to prevent entrepreneurs from running their ship breaking industry,’ said Bangladesh Ship Breakers’ Association advisor Salah Uddin.

It makes an impression as if ship breakers are not human beings, he said.

Salah Uddin said that the industry ministry should warn the shipyard owners before shutting down breaking yards for violation of the rules.

He opposed the proposed fine of Tk one crore and shutting down a breaking yard for running business making false declaration that it was breaking a ship containing no unmanageable or hazardous wastes.

He said that the government had been earning revenue worth thousands of cror of Tk from the shipbreaking industry.

Representatives of shipbreakers and the relevant ministries, departments, NGOs, naval expert and environmentalists took part in the discussion.

Bangladesh was the top ship recycling nation from 2004 to 2008.

Shipbreakers said that they expect to import around 300 ships by the end of next year, up from 220 in 2009 before the restrictions come.

Each year Bangladesh needs around four million tonnes of steel and scrapped ships remains its main source.

Source: The New Age. 5 December 2011

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