New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 that seeks to restrict the use of hazardous materials on ships and provide safety cover to workers.
The Bill introduced by the Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya provides for setting up a national authority for monitoring the recycling activities. The Lok Sabha has already approved the bill.
There are as many as 53,000 merchant ships in the world out of which 1,000 are broken at various shipping recycling yards. The Minister said that nearly one-third of these 1,000 ships come to India for dismantling.
A ship has a life cycle of about 25-30 years after which it is dismantled.
Alang in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat is the recycling hub of the country. Recycling of ships emerged as a major industry in 1983 and has fast emerged as a major leading destination.
Replying to members on the Bill, Mandaviya said that India has natural advantage in becoming the hub of ship-recycling.
“Almost 95-97 per cent of the materials are re-cycled. Hazardous materials of about 2-3 per cent is removed. So, ships (coming for dismantling) is not a waste. It is a wealth creator,” the Minister said.
He said the country gets 10 per cent of the steel from ship-recycling sector.
Leading the discussion from Congress, Amee Yajnik supported the Bill saying it was a welcome step, but requested the government to provide for sufficient safety measures for workers involved in dismantling of ships given that ship-breaking is a labour-intensive industry.
BJP leader Ashwini Vaishnaw said that ship-breaking is a big opportunity for India to create jobs.
“At least 5 lakh direct and indirect additional jobs could be created by supporting the industry. The industry has huge employment potential,” Vaishnaw said.
The Rajya Sabha member noted that Turkey had emerged as one of the best destinations in the world and the sector offers huge opportunity to India.
The Bill provides for setting up a national authority to administer, supervise and monitor all activities relating to ship recycling. Some of the members suggested that an environmentalist must be a part of the proposed body.
Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy wanted to know from the government as to how only one officer can oversee the entire work.
Participating in the discussion, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav suggested that a minimum wage must be fixed for workers depending on the works they do. He noted that metallic pollution was very dangerous for public health and hence necessary safety measures must be provided.
“Workers’ health should be monitored periodically to see if their health has been affected by metallic and other hazardous pollution,” the SP leader said.
In his reply, the Minister said the ship-breaking yards have hazardous material removal systems complying with international standards. Also, the residents of nearby areas undergo periodic health check up even as the possibility of adverse effects of hazardous materials is very less.
As per the Bill, ships should not use prohibited hazardous materials as notified. Further, ship recycling facilities are required to be authorized and ships shall be recycled only in authorized ship recycling facilities.