03 November 2013

Need stressed to adopt shipbreaking as industry in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD, (SANA): Speakers at a seminar have emphasized the need to recognize ship-breaking as an industry and develop a coherent environment-friendly ship-recycling strategy as it is a source of livelihood for many and can also contribute in terms of boosting employment in the country.

The seminar on “Sustainable Ship-recycling Industry”, organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan (SDPI).

The seminar also featured the launch of a research report titled “Pakistan Ship Breaking Outlook: The Way Forward for a Green Ship-recycling Industry”.

The research report was a joint effort of SDPI and the Non-Governmental Organization Ship Breaking Platform (NSP). The session was moderated by Dr. Mahmood A. Khawaja, Senior Adviser on Chemicals and Sustainable Industrial Development at SDPI.

In his welcome address, Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, encouraged the efforts of NSP for highlighting environmental and health related aspects of the ship-breaking industry at the international level.

He observed that the industry needs to be recognized as it is a source of livelihood for many and can also contribute in terms of boosting employment in the country.

Kanwar Javed, lead author of the report, informed that the study analyses the global economic and legal framework in which the ship breaking industry in Pakistan is embedded. The study also sheds light on the linkages of the sector to the global maritime industry and its recycling practices.

The report includes a case study based on the current conditions in the ship breaking yards at the coastal region of Gadhani, Pakistan. The report goes on to propose a way forward for a greener and environment-friendly ship recycling industry in Pakistan.

Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of NSP and also a co-author in the report, introduced the main findings of the report. She shared that Pakistan still does not have any have defined Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to deal with hazardous wastes and other materials retrieved from ships. To make matters worse, hazardous waste from ship-breaking activity has been accumulating over the years in Gadhani.

She highlighted that there was an urgent need to establish waste-management facilities in the ship-breaking industry in Pakistan so as to avoid environmental and health damages that accrue from these activities.

She also pointed out that ship-breaking has now been formally recognized as an industry at the international level. There are lessons that can be learnt, particularly in terms of setting industrial rules and regulations, from ship-breaking industries in countries like China and India.

Moreover, law enforcement in Pakistan remains weak, despite the fact that environment related laws are already in place in the country, such as the Pakistan Environment Protection Act 1997 and Factories Act 1934. “With joint efforts from relevant government bodies, shipbreaking industry, civil society and a special support from international organisations, ship-breaking in Paksitan can be turned into modern business safe industry”, she stressed.

Helen Previer, Chairperson, NGO Ship-breaking Platform, said that the overarching goal of the organization is to prevent toxic end-of-life ships from being beached in developing countries. She said the goal of NSP is to find sustainable solutions that encompass the principles of human rights, environmental justice, “polluter pays”, and clean production.

Arifa Khalid, Member of National Assembly, appreciated the activity of engaging in policy discussion and dialogue for research. She observed that through such activities, policy makers as well as the masses can be made aware of pressing issues in public policy for social welfare. Syeda Rizwana Hasan, a renowned environmental lawyer from Bangladesh, emphasized the need to communicate to the international community that developing nations should not be used as dumping grounds for hazardous waste and pollutants that come with discarded ships.

Robert Evans, former British parliamentarian said that in South Asian ship-breaking yards, workers are exposed to chemicals which can deeply harm the nervous system. Organic pollution coming from sewage can cause serious health risks for workers.

He emphasized that the ship-breaking industry in Pakistan is still non-cognizant of international laws and thus fails to protect its own workers from hazardous waste. Majid Bashir, Advocate Supreme Court, discussed that present judiciary has announced green benches to oversee environmental issues in the country. However, it is important to follow compliance reporting and guidelines provided by these conventions.

Speakers at the event also stressed issues such as workers’ health and safety rights, freedom of association, worker welfare and benefits, contractual agreements compatible with worker issues, and due diligence to labor laws. A representative from the Shipbreaking Labour Union in Gadhani demanded a raise in workers’ wages. It was also highlighted that workers that need to be made award of health related aspects of their activities in the industry. International laws with regards to ship-breaking have already been recognized in many countries, and it is about time that the Government of Pakistan steps up efforts in this direction.

Source: sana news. 30 October 2013

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