12 March 2012

India sticks to its guns on beaching for ship recycling:

India appears to be committed to ratifying the Hong Kong Convention.

India’s director-general of shipping, Dr SB Agnihotri, says banning beaching would be meaningless because it is a method on which 65% to 70% of world recycling capacity depends.

Agnihotri, who was speaking recently at the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden, repeated India’s claim that beaching is no less environmentally friendly than other methods.

He defended the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC)’s acceptance of beaching including the fact that it does not require pre-cleaning of all hazardous materials prior to a vessel’s arrival.

Pre-cleaning rendered ships unseaworthy and requiring towing, says Agnihotri, whereas the HKC recognises that precleaning can happen in any country, empowering the recycling state to authorise or restrict each recycling yard according to its capabilities.

Agnihotri says the HKC promises to become the “universal standard” for regulating ship-recycling activities regardless of whether countries use beaching or alongside methods. Its development was necessary because of the difficulty in applying the Basel Convention to ships.

These same arguments have been regularly used by other proponents of the HKC but the fact they came from Agnihotri appears to confirm that India is committed to ratifying the convention.

He says India is fully aware that unless it does so it will lose the right to protest any unwelcome amendments introduced at a later stage.

In an overview of Alang, the largest recycling location in the world, the shipping minister says there are now 173 plots along 10 kilometres (6.25 miles) of the coast.

The yards produce annually round 2.5 million tonnes of rerollable steel, “without exploiting natural resources”, and offer direct employment to 50,000 people and 500,000 indirectly, says Agnihotri. 

He claims India is always conscious of working conditions and that the impact of the industry is regularly assessed.

Source: TradeWinds Business Report. By Geoff Garfield. 9 March 2012

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