20 October 2012

Inter-ministerial panel visits Alang:

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on ship-breaking (IMC) visited Alang-Sosiya Ship-Recycling Yard on Friday where the infamous oil-tanker-turned-bulk-carrier Exxon Valdez is currently beached for dismantling and the site of the tragedy where six workers died earlier this month. The panel was led by IMC chairman Bharat Bhushan.

Meanwhile, the three shipbreakers, arrested on charges of culpable homicide in this connection two weeks ago, have been released on bail by a local court. However, a senior police officer said the charges have not been watered down as demanded by the ship-breakers' association, who went on strike for five days demanding it.

Sources said Bhushan and the committee, during Friday's visit, gave the workers' training centre at the yard a miss and instead made unplanned visits to several plots and met several workers, asking them about their working conditions and their wages.

Besides the waste-disposal facilities nearby the yard, including the new Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) for toxic wastes, the committee also visited the unused trust-run hospital at the yard and the worker's colonies there, both issues that have been high on the IMC's agenda because they have been slow to take off.

On Thursday, Bhushan was also invited to a meeting with Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Secretary A K Joti, who had this past August appealed to his counterpart in the Environment Ministry, when Alang found itself in the middle a Supreme Court petition, sources said.

Joti had asked that regulations governing Alang-Sosiya must be framed in such a way that business there, which supports large scale allied industries besides thousands of workers, be considered.

Source: Indian Express. 20 October 2012

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