Monday, August 31, 2009


Gracias-Thank You Dwarika ~
I will pass this forward to the Humane-Rights-Agenda Group. So muich is going

on in so many obscure please, at least to those of us inside the United States,
that it makes me wonder about all the people who have no one to expose the
misery and suffering they are enduring in their lives. Though we may be far away
in miles, let us get closer and unite together as innocent humane beings seeking
to know what it is to be truly free, to live in a free land under a free sun.

Is there a root website for this post? I would appreciate it if it was included.
This is rather lengthy and it helps with the veracity of the post for others.

Education for Liberation! Venceremos Unidos!
Peter S. Lopez {aka:Peta}
Sacramento, California,Aztlan
Yahoo Email: 
Come Together! Join Up! Seize the Time!


From: DNRath <>
To: India Thinkers Net at <>;;;; infochange <>; thirdworld <>;; Ujjwal K Chowdhury <>; Usha Chandna Sahara India Mass Communication <>; Urvish Kothari <>;;; indiathinkersnet <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 9:11:49 PM


"If I go to Alang maybe one person will die, but if I stay five people will die. says the  worker".



Alang is  again in news  for a short time . The death of six workers in Alang Ship yard has again brought the plight of workers in ship breaking yard into focus temporarily after the Clemenceau and Blue Lady episodes.  The group of six labourers had climbed on the ship on 4th.August morning to bring down cables of the ship. When they reached engine room of MSC Jessica, and started cutting operation, fire broke out in engine room.  The six workers were charred to death. This is not the first time that workers were charred to death or crushed by the crane. One worker died in month of May and another in June.

 Death of workers have become routine affair and least cared.  In last few months there were death in Adani power station, Tata's Nano factory construction in Sanand and now in again in Alang. concern over the death of one worker and six injured workers, working in the NANO car project in Sanand,. of TATA. This is the second incident of death of workers after the incident in Shiracha Power Plant of ADANI. , near Mundra .

The Alang-Sosiya Ship-Breaking Yard (ASSBY) located in 
the Gulf of Cambay in the Bhavnagar District of Gujarat State
in India is the biggest ship-breaking yard in Asia employing more
than thousand workers dwindling from 10.000 to 40.000.There
are around ten villages in the vicinity of ASSBY. They are Alang,
Sosiya, Manar, Sathara, Kathwa, Bharapara, Mathavada, Takhatgadh
(chopda), Jasapara and Mandva in 12 KM vicinity of sea coast.
Conflict and amity is an usual phenomenon of the migrants with
the locale. But segregation compel most of the migrants to stay in
mushrooming  slums  which is humanly inhabitable in normal condition
and full with the dust of asbestos.. Few stay in rented houses in
different villages.The locals are content with small and medium
business due to ASSBY. 99% migrants are engaged in ship breaking 
in comparison to only less than.1% local people. The migrants mostly
from Orissa, UP. Bihar, Jharkhand etc. are very laborious.So  the ship
breakers prefer migrants in ship breaking more than the local people
which is a very normal practice in Gujarat including in power loom
sector at Surat, Salt factory at Kandla etc.There are  178 plots ASSBY
that dismantle more than 2.5 million tons of material round the year
and where 30 ships can be brokered in a month with an annual
turnover of 3,500 crore. There are 2 departments to look after
all these – one is Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and another is
Controller of Explosion (CoE). For breaking ship no- objection
certificate is issued by GMB and cleaning certificate is issued by CoE.

Alang is the classical case of violation of least regard for environment which is sacrificed  for the fake economics growth.. Alang appears to be a place of Garbage Sale. Alang is not SEZ but SEZ like situation prevails. The press people cannot have free access. It is a place that symbolises the greed and exploitation, business by deceit violating all human norms and morals.

The deaths and injuries are very common in  Alang  In May and June the  death of workers was caused due to the crane's rope carrying big steel plates cut from discarded ships broke and fell on them. Only Rs 30,000 was given to  their  families  as expenses for performing his last rites reacting to the meagre compensation,  one of the  worker said ,  "In cases of injuries, no case is ever registered. The ship-breaking companies at best give some token compensation for medical expenses." This is the reason why these companies never employ any worker permanently." Said the one of the workers. Where as Mr. V H Patel, Deputy Director of the Inspectorate of Factories at Alang, claims that proper compensation to victims' families has been paid. There is no medical insurance for the workers.


 This year in June.  perhaps for the first time about 15.000 workers were in strike demanding workers colony, wage hike, hospitals, schools. As per the version of the Union leader of Alang Sosiya Ship Recycling and General Workers Association (ASSRGWA)  since 1982, no  basic amenities  are provided to the workers though the Ship breaking is recognized as an industry. But Mr. Nikhil Gupta, joint secretary of Ship Recycling Association of India says that the workers are  paid much more than the base daily wages amount ranging from Rs 128 to 136 for different categories.
 He alleged  that the 'few elements from outside Alang trying to provoke workers for their vested interest."  Similarly Green peace has been accused of defaming Alang, as a part of conspiracy.

 THE Alang Ship Breaking Yard  has  came into existence in the  year 1982 There are 183 plots spread over around 10 kin long stretch along the sea coast of Alang & Sosia, -The first ship its first vessel — MV Kota Tenjong beached at Alang Ship Breaking Yard on 13th February, 1983. Alang beached 4,539 ships between 1983 and 2008 and handled tonnage to the tune of 3,19,89400 LDT (light displacement tonnage). During its prime in 1998-99, Alang handled a record 361 ships with 30,37,882 LDT. About 40. 000 workers were working in the peak period.



10.000 tons are  scraped daily in Alang. The scraping meets  10 to 15 % of country's need.With   2.5m tones of steel a year feed 120 rolling mills in the country. earns 600 crs. to Govt. coffer.Tadaja out post earn Rs.70.000/ every day. GMB earned 100 cr. as premium from plot leases and 35 cr. as rent annually. 95 % are  high quality steel. the purpose of dismantling is to recover steel and   rest 5% are none steel matters which has to be separated from steel. This separation is the most risky one. These 5% are also consumer items old in local market in cheaper price. There is a heavy demand for all those items.


 Though there is global  melt down but the it is a boon to ship breaking. Right now near about 200 ship are in wait for dismantling. . "Alang is all set to set a new record in scrapping largest number of ships in 2009 as more than 600 ships are available for dismantling in the international market due to slowdown in the global trades," said Vishnu Gupta, President of Alang Ship Breakers' Association.  The greed of  Ship breaking and recycling is so much that Alang is not free from explosives.


Right now  a ship named" Britain Star" carrying  huge explosives  has arrived in polt no-60 arrived on  11th August, which has taken away the sleep  of the administration and the people of near by areas are scared.


Unhealthy condition of workers and the contamination

Most of the workers suffer from cholera, typhoid, and urticaria.. 8 person per 10000 suffer from urticaria where as in Alang it is 97% .


Average 30 mishaps takes place every day. They are fatal. 
The have to be rushed to Bhavnagr. There is no well equipped hospital.  
It is presumed that Asia 's biggest ship-breaking yard, is sitting
on AIDS bomb. There are so far 75  confirmed HIV cases
reported at Bhavnagar Hospital . There is no dearth of hooch
too, which is operating under the very nose of the Police ,
though there is prohibition law in the state.

The Supreme Court Supreme Court-appointed two-member committee in collaboration with the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH),Ahmedabad last year, to asses the health of the workers.The  committee   came out with the report that fatal accident rate in ship-breaking industry is in the range of 2 per 1000 as opposed to 0.34 per 1000 in the mining industry. But according to the Greenpeace and the International Federation of Human Rights the fatal accident rate at Alang  is at 50-60 per year. This is considered the worst in the world, and 16 per cent of workers here are suffering asbestos related diseases. But  from 1983 until 2004, the Gujerat Maritime Board (GMB) acknowledged 372 deaths. It is difficult to asses the exact number of deaths as the dead bodies are disposed off in secret and no records are maintained or available.

Every sixth worker handling asbestos in the ship-breaking industry has shown signs of asbestosis from chest X-rays.16% which could further lead to lung cancer. According to Greenpeace, the soil and water levels around the Alang yard on the western coast are filled with dangerously high levels of toxic wastes. Extremely high levels of asbestos, heavy metals like arsenic, chromium, cadmium and hazardous and carcinogenic chemicals have been found near here.

One kg of soil of  Alang contains 77 mg chromium,90 mg iron,108 nichel,112 copper,35 mg arsenic,2mg lead,74 mg zinc. Lead is poisonous for blood, kidney and nerves. Arsenic poisoning also too hazardous.  The remnants of hazardous elements will be there for 10 to 20 years with out  carrying the activities of ship breaking. But it is termed as the with in permitted limit.

Surprisingly the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Oscar Fernandez, recently stated in  Lok Sabha, last time that the workers in Alang are undergoing regular medical check up and no worker is found to be suffering from asbestosis.

One of the officers on Special Duty, GMB, said: "The penal provisions under the GMB Ship Recycling Regulations 2003, which include a fine of Rs 1,000 for a minor safety norm violation and operational suspension for a major one, are also being strictly enforced."

  GMB is satisfied that T 20.000 workers are trained and there have been no fatal accidents over the last two years. Use of Helmets , gloves are promised by the ship breakers  but it is a mockery as the ship breakers would say the helmet or the gloves do not save lives. those using the helmet and gloves are ridiculed and the GMB is not at all serious about the matter. The GMB is more for the ship breakers than the workers.

 Of course the Surakhya Divas ( Safety Day) are observed with much fan fare and at times  the Chief Minister Mr. Narendra Modi  join the functions of Surakhya Divas and declare special packages foe ship breaking and public-private partnership (PPP) model in an apparent bid to infuse life into the 'dying' ship-breaking industry  and to make Alang perform as per the international standards and to also promote it as a "green recycling facility" by using higher-end technologies  But hardly there is any reference to the welfare of the workers.

Workers whose responsibility?

GMB officers at Alang  say that  the labourers are not the GMB's responsibility as it does not employ them. ``So there is no question of owning up for their welfare,' But one of the officers says that competition for jobs is so intense that workers can lose their jobs for being ill. "If you fall sick and take leave, there will be no job for you when you come back. under this circumstances of disowning the workers one can understand the plight of workers in Alang.

"If I go to Alang maybe one person will die, but if I stay five people will die"

This is  the core of the reasons that lakhs migrate from their home state. this very aspect reflects the  economic  condition of the people The  mad , desperate compulsion of the rural populace of   rural India to migrate to the world of uncertainty and  probable death  again reflect the health of our country after the  62 years of independence.

The response from the  host states are too very shocking. The host states do least bother for their brethren people flocking to far land for bread. There are hue and cry when some thing happen in Australia but  the Govt. care least for the migrating people. They never express or discus the plight of the migrants in the floor of the Assembly. Nor the labour officer rushes to the guest states to  monitor whether Intra State  Migration Acts and the labour laws are properly operative or not. The host states are happy to get rid of un employed s and over and above richer by  Money Order economy. Due to this in different  attitude of the host states the Ship breakers   do not care to pay any attention to the workers. As if they are obliging the migrants offering a job in the ship breaking Yard.

 The railway trains in the country   are  routed to  ferry the migrant workers to the destination   uncertainty. The  heart throbbing scenes of departures in the station  of the migrants every day can  remind the migration Burma  and Rangoon in British India .

 An English  film was made named Wages of Fear in 1950s. The film depicts the unemployed youths ready to take any risk to earn bread. There are wages of fear every where in the world. of the poor country. the rich country survive on the wages of fear of the poor , developing  and under developed country.In Alang it is rather "Dare for the Wage".

In the circus, the man enter the well of death in the motorcycle with the breathless silence of the audience. But  in Alang the workers donot have any breathless audience to sympathise with them. Rather they have mercy less ship breakers, GMB and the Govt.

 Alang come under  GMB, Gujarat Govt. But so many ministries  have their stake here too. Ministry Industry, Commerce, Health, Labour, Law etc have their role in the ship breaking yard. Except the ministry of industry and commerce , whose main concern is revenue others  hardly play their  designated role. Ministry of health appears once in every year, on  AIDs day.  Ministry of environment is the slave  to the dictum of LPG and some time barks to show it's existence.Alang is not a SEZ but  it is like a SEZ

The working conditions in a ship breaking yard are such that
life is cheaper than steel. As quoted in the Times of India dated
23.05.03, "Taking cognizance of frequent deaths at the yard
due to lack of safety measures Gujarat High Court has
directed the state government in 1997 with a legal framework
to regulate the ship breaking activities, 'ship recycling yard
regulation' – popularly known as Alang regulation. The new
legal framework was put in place by enshrining it in the state
government Gazette in August 2000. However, vested interests
view it as an infringement on free activity that can be carried
out in absence of safety measures. Hence, the Alang Act was
never implemented" .  
The nexus of Government officials, contractors and businessmen
operating in that area ensure that the workers are not registered,
do not get identity card by the employers, no information of
working condition, false name are entered in the log book to
evade to legal compensation in any eventuality.  
Under these circumstances it is high time for the intervention of 
higher authorities in the administration, government, civil
liberties organization, labour organizations to come forward
and take up the issue.
Often media highlight the problems of Alang. But the authority 
has never paid any serious attention. A survey was conducted in
1999 by Bhavnagar University . Out of 361 workers 14 face
accident, 11 suffer from burn, 14 from injuries. Only 10 wear
helmets, 1 have the glove, and 3 uses welding glasses. 32 receive
informal training, where as rest are untrained. So the crude and
obsolete technology is the backbone of the ship breaking
enterprises .GMB is only interested in revenue collection without
much liability for the workers. Profit maximization is the main
Mantra of the Govt. by reducing the cost of ship breaking. Though
the Gujarat Govt is earning Rupees 3200 cores annually from the
ship breaking, the Govt.  is least attention environment and workers welfare.
The Green Peace has come out with a powerful document titles,
"End of Life Ships: The Human Cost of Breaking Ships
documents, with interviews and photographs, the horrific
conditions at Alan in 2005.

Virtually  Alang is becoming the dumping ground of the developed country. Alang appears to be a place of Garbage Sale an epitome of globalization of waste violating all norms and guidelines of thre Basel   Convention to which Govt. of India is a signatory. Basel Convention, regulates the trans-border movement of hazardous wastes but  violated by the rich country and India is allowing hazardous substance in the name of development.

On 2003,the Supreme Court declared , "before a ship arrives at port, it should have proper consent from the concerned authority or the state Maritime Board, stating that it does not contain any hazardous wastes or radioactive substances",.  The  government law states that "the ship-recycler shall not allow waste materials such as oil-cakes, scrap iron and other metallic and rubber pieces to be thrown into the sea or the seashore",

There are 2 departments to look after all these - one is 
Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and another is Controller
of Explosion (CoE). For breaking ship no- objection certificate
is issued by GMB and cleaning certificate is issued by CoE.
We quote from the Times of India report published on
22.05.03 "Serious doubts are being raised over the way
no objection certificates are doled out by regulating
agencies like the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB)
and the Controller of Explosion (CoE).----Though the
GMB authorities continue to blame ship-owners after
every mishaps, it is the system failure which is the root
cause.---there is hardly any accountability on the part
of various agencies that issue clearance certificates to
ensure safety of workers. Incase of "Inville", authorities
had issued safety clearance certifying the ship was fit
for breaking  .The Controller of Explosion had granted
the "man entry", "gas free "and "hot work" approval
certificate before dismantling commenced.
Despite CoE clearance presence of hydrocarbon and 
gases in the interior of Inville"was detected." It is
surprising how the certificates were granted there
are ample traces of gases, Sulpher, furnace oil and
other materials, which can wreak havoc if exposed
to heat. "Said an official of Forensic Science Laboratory.
While GMB officer in charge ----admits "probably
there are lot of areas which are ignored. "And with
Coe having it's office in  Vadodara, functioning often
becomes difficult Sources reveal that certificates are
granted on mere verbal assurance and without any
physical inspection. .Ship-owners often do not wait
for all clearances certificates, says sources .With the
prices of steel the prime extract from the ship, varying
on day to day basis, ship breakers  soften flout norms
to sell off the scrap when prices go up .Some times ,
even ship breaking guide lines are ignored and interiors
of the ship, which are normally broken down at the end
of the operation, are dismantled earlier as there is good
market for these products. This endangers the lives of
6the labourers as they working suffocating and unventilated
compartments, amidst  hazardous gases. The role of GMB
in granting certificates is also being questioned. Even after
a ship breaker obtains certificates from the Coe, it is the
duty of the GMB to verify them before the final go ahead
is granted. And the GMB has just a chief officer and three
safety supervisors  who are expected to completely survey
the ship. " There could be slip-ups which come to light only
after mishaps" admits Captain Deukar Of the three safety
supervisors , only one is permanent employee, the others
being on contract".
This very Report exposes serious loopholes.

Many ships enters illegally with the full knowledge of the GMB and hope to manage to stay for scraping. Many ships move here and there , some time to Pipavav port and fiannly shelterd in Alang. The ship breakers are confidence of  manipulating and getting the  sanctions.

Clemensue  and Blue Lady episode


Alang was in world watch during the Clemensue episode followd by the Blue Lady

 The Clemencueau was to be sent back because of the popular protest in France and global pressure created by green peace. Of course the Supreme Court  of India too ruled out the entry of Clemenceau but  at the same time allowed  the  Blue Lad to be dismantled..

The  French Ambassador did every thing to convince the India Govt. and the  authority that the Clemeceau did not  carry any hazardous materials.  The Ministry of Environment was avoiding the  responsibility on Clemenceau and pushed the it  to Supreme court. The Govt. of Gujarat  and the ship breakers were worried of the with drawl of Clemenceau from Alang.. There were demonstrations against the Green peace in Bhavnagar .  Even the workers were waiting breathlessly  for the clearance of Clemenceau. For them it was the question of bread and livelihood .


On January 17, 2006, the Supreme Court of India observed: "We do not want the environment to be polluted. When the French Government had not permitted the ship to be broken there, why should we allow the ship to come to India ? Whether breaking the ship will result in pollution or not is immaterial. The best thing will be to ask the ship to go back from where it started."


 But after two months passed a shocking judgment on  Blue Lady ," In its order on 11 September, the Supreme Court  said," It cannot be disputed that no development is possible without some adverse effect on the ecology and environment, and the projects of public utility cannot be abandoned and it is necessary to adjust the interest of the people as well as the necessity to maintain the environment. A balance has to be struck between the two interests. Where the commercial venture or enterprise would bring in results which are far more useful for the people, difficulty of a small number of people has to be bypassed. The comparative hardships have to be balanced and the convenience and benefit to a larger section of the people has to get primacy over comparatively lesser hardship."


The Supreme Court also did not consider the  application filed by Bhagvat Sinh Haluba Gohil, Sarpanch, Village Sosiya, Tehsil Talaja, and District Bhanvnagar on behalf of 30, 000 villagers and 12 panchayats of Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. The villages pleaded , "Blue Lady" (SS Norway) be not allowed to be dismantled at the Alang Ship-breaking yard." The villagers have argued that "The dismantling of the ship would have hazardous effect on the residents of the villages near the Alang ship breaking yard as the ship contains large amount of asbestos which, when exposed is hazardous to the health of the residents living in the twelve villages."

The Supreme Court too disliked the trial by media with the following words. "We are shocked to find demonstrations are held and articles written, and if anyone is found to be doing so, he should prima facie be held for contempt of court and suitable action be taken against him," Judge Arijit Pasayat told the court.

 At time there are world wide attention for Alang on various issues. The Green peace . the foreign media BBC, Guardian, Newyork Times  and important dailies try to high lights the issues related to environment and the exploitation of cheap labour. But the regional media is out and out unsympathetic to the plight of workers and the issues of environments. Raising the these issues is considered as  snatching  away the ship breaking yard from Alang to China, Bangladesh , Pakistan or other places. The attitude is at any cost the business must go on .  This same attitude is harbouerd by   the Govt. of Gujarat too. In spite of global attention on Alnag  there is no respite  and there is no intervention from  Central Govt. or any quarter either for the benefit of the workers or to save the environments.



 After the Clemenceau thousand of workers went back to their home land  to tell  the untold story of exploitation before the media, because the both National as well as the International medias shadows the workers to high light about the  plight of the workers due to unsafe working condition and the violation of all norms.(A TV crew  from Paris interviewed the present writer  who were later held up by the police in Bhavnagar).


 Though Alang was in the world watch of the media the workers lamented of  loosing the bread due to the call back of Clemenceau which was compensated after allowing the Blue Lady.


The teams after teams has visited Alang and surprisingly 
all the teams are satisfied . all the teams  are in one opinions
that there is threat form asbestos and it is with the  permitted
limit. the body appointed by SC .  parliamentary body a team
of ILO. World Bank – are with the same opinion of Metallurgical
& Engineering Consultants ( India ) Limited (MECON) and
Gujarat  Ecology commission of Gujarat is well within legal parameters,

Only the media and that too national and international media and the green peace are of  different opinion.

Now the UPA Govt. has decided to go ahead with approved 
Gujarat's Mithivirdi (Chhaya) site in Bhavnagar district for
.an 8,000 MW nuclear power plant. The People are protesting  against it.

This will be another bone of contention in coming days.

The Alang Shipyard incident raises these following questions -
1)      Safety norms
2)      Plight of the migrant workers
3)      And violation of all acts.
 And so these measures should be taken with utmost care-
1-        First all all kind safety measures be taken to avoid accidents and deaths
2-         Ship breaking should be considered as an Industry and comes under Factory Act and  various provisions for safety as per Factory Act  be        Safety consciousness as  a Culture  be developed.
3-        Ship breaking be made updated with improved technology.
4-        All workers be given primary training about ship breaking and be provided with safety kits compulsorily.
5-         GMB should be made  responsible for all lapses and responsible officials be punished for all lapses.
6-        The workers should be given Identity Card, appointment Card by the employers and Labour Dept. should follow strict vigilance in this regard.
7-         Interstate Migrant Workers Act be applied which ensures accommodation, medical facilities, traveling allowances.
8-         Human Right of all migrant workers and members of their families be protected as per the
9-        Ship breaking can only be after decontamination of the hazardous substance.
10-        A mandatory rule be framed to compel the  owners of the ship to clean their ships before exporting them and  ensure that tanks are gas free for hot work.
11-         A full fledged Fire fighting unit with adequate  number of trained  fire fighters  be kept ready round the cloak.
12-         Eight hour working hour norms with  weekly  paid holidays workers be introduced.
13-         A well equipped hospitals specially  to take care of accidents  of the workers be instituted.
14-         Adequate death compensation to the members of the families be paid with out any administrative hurdles.
15-        Planned accommodation for the workers be made.
16-         Long term plan for infrastructure e.g. road   ,housing, drainage, water, electricity be taken up along with social infrastructure like schools, hospitals etc.
17-         Attention be taken to save marine ecology, and ecology imbalance be guarded.
18-         Safe guard be taken because of social segregation of the migrants due to cultural divide.
19-          The Labour Dept of Gujarat as well as the Labour depts.  States from where the migration
takes place  must guard the interest of the migrants. And their working conditions
20-        The Human Rights   Groups joint Parliamentary teams be allowed to visit the ASSBY and their recommendations be mandatory for the GMB  and the Govt of Gujarat.
21-         A complain Secret Cell be instituted where the workers can complain fearlessly and get redressal with being sacked from the job.
22-         The State from where migration takes place must keep the record of the workers, make routine enquiry about the migrants, and place the report in their respective house of the Assemblies.
23-         GMB should take help of experts from  different fields like engineers, marine science experts, environmental scientists, and experts in sociology and planning.

This article is published in Indian Age- 1st. September 2009issue

dn.rath@gmail. com






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