Handling Capacity At Alang, The World’s Biggest Ship-Breaking Yard To Be Doubled

Even though the ship recycling industry body reportedly mentioned that the Alang ship-breaking yard wasn’t utilized to its optimum capacity, Sarabananda Sonowal, who is India’s Union Minister for ports, shipping, and waterways, has mentioned that the Gujarat government has envisaged doubling up the ship-breaking capacity based in Alang to nearly 10 million metric tonnes per annum (MMPTA).

This is when over 50% of the capacity of 4.5 MMPTA of the Alang yard, which could break up to 400–500 vessels, is idle.

Shipbreaking units based in Alang can produce about 3.5 million tonnes of steel by recycling approximately 200 ships annually.

The industry also offers employment to 15,000 persons directly and to 1.5 lakh people indirectly.

ship recycling
Image for representation purpose only

With this expansion plan of ramping up the capacity of yards, the employment opportunity is also expected to get doubled, ushering in more economic prosperity in the region.

Sonowal was addressing a conference at Gandhinagar’s Mahatma Mandir on “Green Ship Recycling and Vehicle Scrapping”.

Though the minister painted a pretty rosy picture, figures from the Gujarat Maritime Board reflect that the Alang shipbreaking yard in Bhavnagar has been going through a significant lean phase.

While the yard — with a current capacity to dismantle 4.5 MMPTA of vessels — attracted 187 boats for recycling from 2020 to 2021, the numbers got slightly from 2021 to 2022, when 209 ships were beached on the shores of Alang.

However, the numbers remain far from the 415 vessels it had dismantled in 2011 to 12.

The dropping fortunes of Alang over the last decade were highlighted during the same event by Haresh Parmar, India’s secretary of the Ship Recycling Industries Association (SRIA). He rightly pointed out that about 40% of the plots based in Alang were not operational.

Parmar is himself a ship-breaker and works at Alang. He appealed to the Central and Gujarat government to aid the ship breakers to get access to vessels from the EU that do not permit ageing vessels to be sent to countries such as

India is owing to rising environmental concerns at the ship-breaking facilities.

One hundred fifty-one plots at Alang, where ageing ships are sent to be broken. Of these, 130 have so far been leased out.

Amitabh Kumar, Director General of Shipping, mentioned that 114 shipbreaking plots or yards at Alang were successfully certified to comply with the Hong Kong Convention. Many were upgraded to suit the EU requirements and had been waiting to be included in the EU’s list of approved yards for shipbreaking.

The additional compliance burden on the recycling facilities has resulted in imbalances in the level playing field to the disadvantage of the country’s ship recyclers; Kumar mentioned without naming the shipbreaking yards in Pakistan and Bangladesh, who’re not signatories to the Hong Kong Convention.

Ship-breakers in neighbouring nations quote relatively lower prices for ageing vessels than their Indian compatriots.

The EU-owned or flagged vessels comprise almost 40% of the world’s fleet by value.

Our country has been striving to express its enthusiasm in undertaking ship recycling of such vessels that have reached the end of their lives.

However, the Basel Ban amendment that restricts the transfer of ships to recycle from OECD nations to non-OECD ones is an impediment, Kumar mentioned.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) comprised 38 countries and was created to rebuild Europe after World War II.

A bilateral agreement between the EU and India following Article 11 of the Basel Convention has been proposed to permit European vessels to visit India for recycling purposes. The official added that early resolution of the issue by the EU will be advantageous for both the European ship owners and India’s ship-breaking yards.

References: Indian Express, Infra ET Times

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