Daily Star – Punish errant ship-breaking yard owners: NGOs

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9 April 2014 - The Coalition of Local NGOs, Bangladesh (CLNB) and Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (Bela) yesterday demanded that the government take action against ship-breaking yards which are violating laws.

CLNB demanded that the government investigate all incidents of workers’ deaths at ship-breaking yards.

“As the shipyard owners are deliberately leading untrained workers to deaths by engaging them in risky jobs without adequate safety measures, they cannot avoid their liabilities for the accidents,” said Harunur Rashid, chairperson of CLNB.

The government must identify the owners who are engaging workers flouting “The Ship Breaking and Ship Recycling Rules-2011,” effective since 2012, he added.

He also demanded that the responsible owners be identified and punished.

Referring to the government-authorised training centres’ data, he said only 4,908 workers out of 200,000 have the mandatory job training.

In 2010, following a High Court order, which came after 43 workers had died, the government put up a ban on the industry.

It lifted the ban in 2012 on condition that the owners follow the law.

Over 45 deaths occurred in the last 28 months at ship-breaking yards, the CLNB chairperson said.

Meanwhile, Bela sent a legal notice to the government asking it to cancel environment clearance certificate and license of ship-breaking yards that have been violating laws.

Bela made the move following an incident of a gas cylinder explosion that killed four workers and injured two others who were dismantling a 5,400 tonnes ship at Arafin Enterprise at Kadam Rasul area in Sitakunda last Thursday.

In the legal notice, Bela asked for a neutral probe committee to investigate the incident and publish its report, said a press release of the organisation.

Bela sent the legal notice to several government agencies as per the High Court’s direction that ordered compensation for all workers who die or are injured in accidents at ship-breaking yards.