The National Authority of Ship Recycling to be set up in Gandhinagar, is expected to adversely impact the autonomy of the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), especially with regard to the Alang ship breaking yard, that handles 90 per cent of ship-recycling in India.
The new authority will not only supervise all ship-breaking activities at Alang, through periodic checks and inspections, but the new arrangement will require the GMB to “report” to the national authority which will include timely submission of audit reports for safety, health and environment.
The central government on October 15 had notified Director General of Shipping (DG Ship-ping) as the National Authority for Recycling of Ships. “Under the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019, we will have to report to the national authority related to all ship recycling activities,” said Atul Sharma, Deputy General Manager at GMB.
Any investigations, audits, completion certificates of ships will now be submitted to the national authority. “The health audits will be conducted every year, safety audits will be conducted once in six months and environmental audits will be held quarterly. All these reports will have to be sent to national authority,” said Sharma, who was also on the committee formed by DG Shipping to form rules for the Recyling of Ships Act, 2019.
DG Shipping, who will be heading this national authority, will also be able to review any appeals made against the orders issued or decisions taken by competent authority like the GMB. It will also assist the GMB in investigating matters related to death of workers and incidents related to environmental damage due to ship recycling activities.
An expert at matters related to Alang and a former port officer of the GMB told The Indian Express, “DG Shipping taking up an office at Gandhinagar is only a precursor of what is to follow. The autonomy of the GMB with regard to Alang will surely be compromised as the national authority will preside over important developments at Alang.”
Currently, the GMB functions as an autonomous body and is the sole decision making body with regard to activities surrounding ship-breaking at Alang.
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), Director General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institute (DGFASLI), Department of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH) of the state government and Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) are among the agencies who inspect the plots and vessels arriving at Alang and give necessary permissions. These agencies, including GMB, will continue to function without losing existing powers, but will be monitored by the national authority.
“The National Authority will be like a father figure to GMB and others boards. It will conduct periodic checks and inspections at Alang,” he added.
“Ideally, the national authority will ensure quality control at all the ship-breaking yards in India, including Alang. Safety, health and environment will be the three key areas they will be keeping an eye on. They will not be getting into the commercial aspects and day to day operations at Alang, which will continue to be handled by the Gujarat Maritime Board,” Sharma added.