03 June 2012

The alang ship recycling yard: Law Teacher

About Alang, Gujarat

The Alang ship recycling yard is situated on the western coast of the Gulf of Cambay, 50 km away from the town of Bhavnagar in Gujarat. Alang is the world's largest ship-breaking yard and it accounts for more than half the world's total ship recycling, around 40,000 workers , most of whom are migrants from states like Bihar, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh , are presently employed at 183 ship dismantling plots. On an average amount of steel generated from the ship breaking yards at Alang is at par with major steel plants like TISCO. More than 23 million has been generated from Alang in the last ten years. Ship-breaking first started in Alang in 1982-83, prior to that it is said that Alang was a ‘pristine and unspoiled beach'. Alang emerged as a popular destination for shipbreaking because of its unusual marine conditions and tidal movements which makes it very easy to beach a ship.Moreover cost of labour in Alang is really cheap compared to most ship breaking yards in the world so ship dismantling in Alang is comparatively a less expensive affair. Another reason for Alang's popularity as a ship breaking site is that shipbreakers here have to deal with very little regulatory oversight.

Ship-breaking in Alang became the subject of several agitations and protests by NGOs across the globe because of the violation of human rights of workers and environmental norms. Ships which come for dismantling are laden with toxic waste, and since dismantling is done mostly manually, workers are exposed to high level of toxic wastes every day. The workers know very little about the health risks associated with their work One sixth of the workers in Alang suffer from asbestosis which can eventually lead to cancer, daily accident rates are high and most accidents go unreported, workers lack proper settlements and sanitation as a result of which diseases like typhoid and cholera are extremely common. Further most workers are employed on a temporary basis so they are deprived of incentives of a permanent employee like insurance covers or adequate compensation in case of accidents. Despite the high accident rates and the health risks involved only one Red Cross run hospital is there in Alang to cater to more than 40,000 workers.

Source: Law Teacher.

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