TISS Report Slams Alang Shipbreaking Yard

BY Tiya Chatterji 13.Dec.2019

According to a recent research issued by Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), there has been little improvement in working conditions at the ship breaking yards in Alang-Sosiya (ASSBY), India.

The working and living conditions at the ship breaking yards of Alang, India, remain alarmingly poor, argues a new study published in the Economic & Political Weekly, a well known Indian Social Science journal. The research was commissioned and financed by the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) and was coordinated by Dr Geetanjoy Sahu from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). TISS’ findings are based on intensive field work in Alang from April 2013 to May 2014 including interviews with 300 ship breaking workers as well as stakeholders from the industry. The official figures accessed by TISS report at least 470 fatal accidents in the yards since they were first set up in 1983, making ship breaking one of the most vicious occupations in India.

Indian human rights advocates referred to in the report estimate that there is a far higher number of victims, predominantly because of the long-term consequence of unsafe ship breaking activities, including occupational diseases such as cancer, and resulting deaths are often not taken into deliberation by the authorities. The report refers to the National Institute of Occupational Health, which had found out that 15 out of 94 examined workers showed signs of diseases caused by exposure to asbestos.

There is no lack of laws in India to protect both workers and the environment from the many harms caused by the unsustainable practices in Alang. It is high time that the Indian government enforces these laws to ensure that the industry embraces truly safe and green recycling practices off the beach,” Ingvild Jenssen, Director of the NGO Ship breaking Platform, commented.

India’s recently approved Ship Recycling Bill (2019) and ratification of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Hong Kong Convention risk undermining existing laws and fail in establishing an effective framework for improving industry practices. The standards set by the Hong Kong Convention are weak, and have also been strongly criticized for simply rubberstamping beaching, a method which is banned in major ship owning countries, the NGO Ship breaking Platform said.