11 February 2013

Why is Alang not part of Modi’s Gujarat story?

Gujarat has a growth story that many people are envious of but there are also blots on the face of the industrialisation story in the state. CNN-IBN travelled to the heart of the world’s largest ship breaking yard in Alang in Bhavnagar district in Gujarat and this is what they found out:

Pollution woes in the shipbreaking yard.

Little or no attention is given to the pollution woes at the Alang-Sosiya ship-recycling yard. Ships are torn down and pulled apart to extract metal without the minimum safety standards. And large reams of wires are often burnt in the open exposing the workers and the public to toxic fumes which are harmful for the environment as well.

The residents complain that the area gets covered with ash and smoke but there is very little that they can do to change the situation.

Condition of workers in the Alang shipyard:

The condition of the workers in the Alang ship recycling yard are abysmal. Almost 50000 workers are employed in extracting metal out of the old ships, most of who come from outside Gujarat.

No safety standards are maintained and the worker’s town that has grown beyond the main ship breaking yard has grown with very little supervision.

Though Alang recycles half the world’s ships and vessels it has got very little attention in terns of the workers condition and the way they live. The workers shanties have grown without any access to drinking water and also sanitation.

The lone political crusader in Alang:

The pollution woes and the workers condition in Alang has never been taken seriously by either the BJP or the Congress. This, at a time, when Alang has made headlines several times with its flouting of environmental rules.

But Kanubhai Kansariya, a one-time BJP worker has decided to take up the issue and make a difference. He has single-handedly challenged the Congress and the BJP vowing to make this an issue in the upcoming polls.

He has a record of standing up to political might when he opposed the BJP in putting up a Nirma cement manufacturing plant in the catchment area of a check dam.

Source: 5 December 2012

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