Alang, the World’s largest ship re-cycling yard is seeing unprecedented ship breaking activity and has surpassed all previous records. The slow-down in Bangladesh as a result of their court order and the accumulation of vessels over the past three years are supposed to have contributed to this unsurpassed record. Alang having been at the center of an environmental controversy few years back, is set to integrate new technologies in ship breaking to enhance production at a lower cost.
“Last year 3 million tons of iron was produced by demolishing 348 vessels at the 127 ship recycling yards at Alang, the world's largest ship demolition yard,” said Pankaj Kumar, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive officer of the Gujarat Maritime Board. “Presently two to three ships are being demolished on an average each day. All environmental issues have been sorted out and we are implementing all guidelines set by the Supreme Court and complying with the various regulations in force.
“We have entered into an agreement with the Japanese government and the Japan Development Institute is helping to bring in new technologies for recycling by the beaching method which is followed at the Alang yard as it is the most economical method of ship breaking. As such our operations are environment friendly but we will further upgrade the operations. The Japanese system supports our beaching method and they are working to further enhance the technology employed there. Beaching method being economical and environment friendly, it is also followed by other countries including China and some South Asian countries.
The Gujarat Maritime Board has set up a Safety Institute at Alang where they run safety courses. So far more than 50,000 workers have been trained – though the employment potential is more than this number. The training provided is on safety and hazard prevention. Workers are taught to carry out the work in safe and sound condition. Only after they complete the training and get their certification can they be employed by the ship breakers.
“Perhaps the ship breaking activity could see a fall next year as shipping is coming out of the downturn,” stated Mr Kumar. “Environment issues are no more a problem as the disposal of asbestos, TBT and other hazardous material is taken care of as directed by the Committee appointed by the Government. This committee regularly considers finding ways and means of improved methods of disposal of hazardous material. But asbestos and other hazardous material are now almost non-existent since their use is outdated. There are plenty of re-rolling mill in and around Alang where the recycled material is utilized. With the initiative of Japan we are also working on improving the marketing of the recycled material so that during recycling value addition can be done.”