The statement of compliance issued by Japan-based global ship classification society ClassNK marks the first time such recognition has been given to ship breakers in South Asia
Two ship recycling yards located in Alang, Gujarat, have won compliance status with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, adopted by the International Maritime Organization in 2009. Photo: Hindustan Times
R. L. Kalthia Ship Breaking Pvt. Ltd and Priya Blue Industries Pvt. Ltd, two ship recycling yards located in Alang, Gujarat, have won compliance status with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2009.
The statement of compliance (SoC) issued by Japan-based global ship classification society ClassNK on 29 September to the two Indian ship recyclers marks the first time such a recognition has been given to ship breakers in South Asia. It goes a long way in dispelling doubts about the beaching method of breaking ships practised on the shores of Alang.
The ClassNK compliance to Kalthia and Priya Blue is a clear indication that it is not difficult to meet the standards set by the Hong Kong International Convention if necessary improvements are made and facilities are upgraded. It is also a signal to scores of other recycling facilities in Alang to follow in the footsteps of Kalthia and Priya Blue to win compliance status.
The compliance status will also give confidence to fleet owners to send their old ships for breaking to recycling facilities that follow safe and environmentally sound processes.
Under the beaching method, ships are first grounded and then dismantled, posing hazards to human beings and the environment.
A ship classification society verifies ships for sea worthiness. ClassNK is a full-time member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).
The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships is yet to come into force because it has not been ratified by the required 15 states, representing 40% of the world’s merchant shipping by gross tonnage (capacity) and a maximum annual ship recycling volume not less than 3% of the combined tonnage of the states, to take effect globally.
The endorsement by ClassNK that Kalthia and Priya Blue comply with the technical standards of the Hong Kong International Convention could not have come at a better time for the ship recyclers at Alang, the world’s biggest ship-breaking yard.
While the IMO convention does not prohibit the dismantling of old ships by the beaching method, a separate ship recycling regulation published by the European Union earlier this year seeks to ban beaching and shift the ship dismantling activity to dry docks.
“This really does prove beyond doubt that not all beaching is bad,” says Anil Sharma, the founder and chief executive officer of Global Marketing Systems Inc. (GMS), the world’s largest cash buyer of ships for dismantling. In the ship recycling industry, a “cash buyer” is a trader who purchases a ship for “cash” from the owners and delivers it to a ship recycling yard.
“GMS has argued that declaring blanket bans on beaching without viewing individual upgraded sites is short-sighted and these SoCs really do vindicate our position. This (development) will have a positive effect by encouraging other yards in Alang and the rest of the Indian sub continent to follow suit and upgrade their facilities to achieve similar recognition.”
Kalthia and Priya Blue have both carried out substantial improvements to their facilities in a bid to enable safer and greener ship recycling as well as developed the ship recycling facility plans (SRFPs) required for a competent authority’s certification according to the Hong Kong International Convention.
ClassNK reviewed the SRFPs prepared by Kalthia and Priya Blue, which comply with the requirements of the convention, and confirmed that their ship recycling processes follow their respective SRFPs in addition to conducting on-site inspections before issuing the SoC.
The entire process took about 30 months.
Two more ship recyclers—Leela Ship Recycling Pvt. Ltd and the Shree Ram Group—also in Alang, are currently being technically appraised by ClassNK for compliance certification.
Alang has attracted criticism globally because of the frequent accidents reported at many of the recycling facilities that dot the coast in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district.
Some 470 workers have died in accidents in Alang since it started breaking ships in 1983, according to Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
But the real number could be much higher because the number of deaths are under-reported. Since 1983, more than 400 fires have broken out and since 2001, 141 fatal accidents and 301 non-fatal ones have taken place.
The Alang ship-breaking yards have dismantled 6,604 vessels till 2014 and produce 3 million metric tonnes of scrap metal annually.
The ClassNK certification to the two ship recyclers could potentially change the global perception of Alang because the Indian ship-breaking industry would be seen as one step ahead of others as far as compliance with the IMO convention is concerned.
But for this, more recyclers should strive to conform with the standards of the IMO convention. About 70 recycling yards need an upgrade. The downside for non-compliance would be too costly for an industry that employs close to 50,000 people, both directly and indirectly.
Source: live mint. 9 October 2015