The NGO Shipbreaking Platform expresses dismay over the continued failure of the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) to be transparent and to grant civil society access to see the working and environmental conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Alang. For the past two months, the GMB has turned a cold shoulder to repeated requests by the Platform, via the Indian member organisation Toxics Link, to visit the shipbreaking yards on the tidal beach of Alang, where toxic vessels are broken without containment or stable platforms that other recycling methods provide. By refusing to reply to the requests to visit the yards, the GMB has opted to keep the negative environmental and labour impacts of the operations at Alang out of sight.
Last year, also the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the Danish shipping line Maersk excluded the Platform from joining field visits they organised to Alang. Maersk recently reversed its ship recycling policy and began breaking ships on the Indian tidal shore. The return to the beach by Maersk has had the devastating effect of legitimising across the industry the beaching method, which inherently pollutes coastal areas and exposes communities to toxins, conditions that the GMB wants to conceal.
“In dismissing the Platform’s request to visit Alang, the GMB has chosen to protect industry attempts to green-wash the dirty and dangerous breaking of ships on beaches. This lack of openness is disappointing and represents a decision by the GMB to keep Indian ship recycling in the dark ages”, says Ingvild Jenssen, Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
The European Commission is anticipated to prohibit the recycling of EU-flagged ships in beaching yards when it publishes its upcoming list of approved ship recycling facilities in non-EU countries. The EU list represents an important turning point for sustainable ship recycling by setting a benchmark for an industry in which standards have been historically absent.