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UN team visits Alang,focus on workers’ safety

Two human rights officers of the United Nations (UN) visited Alang on Sunday and held a series of meetings with officials of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB),Gujarat Maritime Board and other social groups.

Two human rights officers of the United Nations (UN) visited Alang on Sunday and held a series of meetings with officials of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB),Gujarat Maritime Board and other social groups.

GPCB member secretary R G Shah said: “Okechukwu Ibeanu,Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights,and Human Rights Officer Stefano Sensi,both from Geneva,are on a visit to Alang to prepare a report concerning human rights of those engaged in ship breaking at this yard.”

Though officials refrained from making any comments to the media,a GPCB team-member said it was concluded at the end of the discussion that the working conditions of labourers should improve. The team was also interested in learning why people from Orissa are coming here as temporary labourers,he said.

“Workers’ rights and environment safety have been the prime focus of their report,” the official said.

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The two officials will also examine the existing problems linked to the alleged unsound management and disposal of hazardous products and wastes,and their adverse impact on the workers in the ship-breaking industry.

The examination benchmark has been the UN’s Basel Convention’s Technical Guidelines for environmentally sound management of the full and partial dismantling of ships,to which India is a signatory.

In 2008-09,264 ships were dismantled at Alang,almost double than the number of ships dismantled the previous year. According to GMB,136 ships were dismantled at Alang in 2006-07 and an equal number in 2007-08. Till November 2009,214 ships have been dismantled at the Asia’s largest ship-breaking yard.

First published on: 18-01-2010 at 05:05 IST
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