Every time a ship for scrap reaches the Steel Industries Kerala Ltd. (SILK) unit at Azhikkal here, there are apprehensions about environmental pollution.
And it is not likely to be any different this time when a 1,300-tonne cargo ship has been brought to the public sector vessel dismantling unit located on the bank of the Valapattanam river, if the concerns aired in a section of the media are any indication.
The cargo vessel from Male reached the SILK unit here recently for dismantling.
SILK officials have said all statutory environmental rules and directives will be complied with before the work for dismantling the vessel starts. They said that this was the first vessel brought at the unit for breaking after completion of the ship-breaking activities amid protests by an action committee of local residents and environmental activists a few years ago. They had then demanded its closure saying that the ship-for-scrap work causes environmental and health hazards.
When contacted, SILK Managing Director J. Chandrabose told The Hindu over the phone that all statutory rules and directives from the Pollution Control Board will be complied with before the breaking starts. The dismantling work will be done in the workshop of the unit with roofing and concrete floor as required under the rules, he said adding that concrete flooring ensures that not a single drop of oil or grease from the ship reaches the waters.
The Azhikkal unit of SILK had been started for building boats as well as breaking vessels for generating steel required for recycling.
The public sector company is said to be running on accumulated loss, though the Azhikkal unit is surviving with orders for ship for scrap.
The latest order for dismantling coincides with the attempts to secure an order from the Kerala State Water Transport Corporation for building passenger boats. The SILK officials confided that the order is now at the stage of tendering. The unit can stay afloat if it gets three or four vessels for dismantling every year, they said. Ship breaking is also for reuse of iron used in ships, they added.
N. Mohammed, senior manager of the SILK unit at Azhikkal, said the unit has all the licences from the Pollution Control Board and the local panchayat for carrying out its operations. No contamination of water is possible as the vessel is not being dismantled in the water but inside the workshop with concrete floor. The unit also does steel fabrication work for other agencies, he added.
Source: hellenic shipping news. 18 March 2017