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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bangladesh superior court halts ship scrapping operation


BANGLADESH'S SUPREME court on Sunday overturned a lower court's ruling that allowed a ship scrapping operation until October. The court will review the case on Thursday.

Last week the high court allowed conditional importation of toxic ships and their dismantling. It extended the time on grounds that importers and ship dismantlers must ensure the safety and environmental protection of the public and workers.
The Bangladeshi Environmental Lawyers Association had appealed a previous ruling on the extension with the supreme court.

Attorneys of the Bangladeshi Shipbreakers Association, which is engaged in a $1.5 billion ship recycling trade, are scheduled to be at the hearing to ensure the original decision is upheld.

On March 7, the high court permitted import of hazardous ships and their scrapping for two months on several conditions, saying that no ships can be scrapped without cleaning toxic gas, and asbestos and toxic materials must be removed by experts before the ships are dismantled.

The high court relaxed the ban after leaders of the world's largest shipbreaking industry guaranteed it would adopt strict strictly rules to protect workers, such as an age limit of at least 18, training and proper safety gear, and cleansing of toxic material from ships prior to arrival.

It ordered the Department of Environment (DOE) to form a three-member committee to monitor whether the importers and ship breakers are complying with the given conditions.

Bangladesh's main source of 4 million tons of steel for construction is from the dismantling of cargo ships.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at

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