30 Nov 2017 12:33 IST

India pledges to ratify IMO’s convention on recycling of ships

Draft legislation now undergoing consultations, says Nitin Gadkari

India has drafted legislation to implement the ‘Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships’, which was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2009, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has said.

“To make the ship recycling industry safe for its workers and the environment, draft legislation to implement the Hong Kong Convention (HKC) is now undergoing pre-legislative consultations; I am confident that we will ratify this convention in the not-too-distant future,” Gadkari told delegates at the 30th Assembly Session of the IMO in London on Tuesday.

The Convention is yet to come into force as it has not been ratified by 15 states, representing 40 per cent of the world merchant shipping by gross tonnage (capacity). Only six countries – Norway, Congo, France, Belgium, Panama and Denmark — have ratified it. India follows the beaching method to dismantle ships, which is often criticised for its lax safety and health aspects. Under this method, ships are first grounded and then dismantled. The IMO Convention does not prohibit the beaching method.

India is upgrading the world’s largest stretch of ship-breaking beaches on Alang-Sosiya in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district through a $76-million soft loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The upgrades envisage concrete floors to prevent pollutants from entering the sub-soil and improvement of environmental facilities.

Since 2015, recycling yards in Alang-Sosiya have voluntarily started upgrading their facilities to conform to the HKC. Some 55 of the 120 working yards have won HKC compliance certificates from global ship classification societies. Fifteen other yards are being audited for certification.

“The mindset at recycling yards in Alang has changed, leading to improvements in breaking standards,” an official at GMS Inc., the world’s biggest cash buyer of ships for dismantling, said; no mishaps have been reported for three years.