Alang is the biggest ship breaking yard in the world and is situated in Gujarat, India. Hundreds of ships get scrapped here every year. With the increasing popularity of the yard, the number of ships getting scrapped here is also increasing steeply. With this the number of threats on the health of the workers working there and the marine environment is also increasing. There is a steep increase in threats on them. Unlike other countries, India had lacks strict policies and regulations for protecting and preserving the marine environment. This leads to irreversible harm on the surrounding flora and fauna as well as the health of the laborer’s. Indian coasts have coral reefs and due to the unregulated practice of ship breaking activity, the coral reef of the coast has vanished and destroyed completely. It is having serious impacts on the marine life. Alang has now become the storage of toxic wastes, radioactive elements, poisonous gases and waste, unusable oil which have now entered into the marine food chain and and are also affecting the health of the workers working there. The laborer’s work in dilapidated condition with least safety measures and poor health care facilities.
EXISTING SHIP RECYCLING CAPACITY OF ALANG
Currently the ship breaking yard has 153 plots or ship breaking yards on 10 kilometer long coast in Bhavnagar District of the state. Out of these 131 plots practice ship breaking activities and just 80 plots have ships for breaking. So, 48 per cent of the ship breaking capacity is laying idle in the site. In the year 2011 -12, 415 ships with a total 3.85 million Light Displacement Tonnage (LDT or weight of a vessel without fuel, cargo, etc.) came to the site and the capacity of the site was almost full. And after that there was a decrease in the number of ships coming. In 2021, only 199 ships came to the site.
In this entire process of ship breaking, there are numerous factors and aspects which are not being considered and are neglected. The protection of health, safety and sanitation of the workers is not considered, the negative impacts of the practice on the marine ecosystem and the surrounding environment is not being considered properly and the potential threats on the flora and fauna are not considered properly. Some of the regulations and rights of the workers which are being violated are:
- Violation of Legal Frameworks for Adequate Health Facilities: One of the major problems in the ship breaking site is the absence of proper health care facilities for the workers. The region as 2 hospitals only which are under staffed and don’t possess necessary health care infrastructure for treating fatal emergencies. There is no ambulance facility in the area as well. Regulations Violated: the International Labor Organization (ILO) guideline of 2003, which outlined detailed provisions for the safety and health of workers in ship-breaking industries etc.
- Violation of Regulations provided for secured employment of laborer’s: The ship breaking yard of Alang is labor intensive and does not use modern technologies like China and Japan. Thousands of people migrants migrate from different parts of the state (especially Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar etc.) to Alang Sosiya for getting employment but there is no employment security here. A number of workers are Alang Sosiya Ship Breaking YARD (ASSBY) have also said that there is a always a delay in payment of wages and they do not receive any financial benefits as laid down by different labor laws of India. The workers are not even paid for extra work on Sundays and when they are on leave. Regulations Violated: The Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923; the Payment of Wages Act 1936; the Factories Act 1948; the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Act 1948; The Minimum Wages Act 1948; the Employees’ Provident Funds Act 1952; the Payment of Bonus Act 1965 etc.
- Absence of database providing details of migrant workers: The District Authority does not maintain any database regarding the number of migrant workers working in the ship – breaking yard. Regulations Violated: Chapter II of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, specifies that the state government shall appoint a registering officer for the purpose of registering interstate migrant workmen. Ship-breaking industries continue to recruit migrant workers without registering under this Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act.