First Post – PIL seeks facilities for labourers at Gujarat shipbreaking yard

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4 July 2014 - Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Thursday sought replies from the Centre and the state government in response to a Public Interest Litigation seeking measures for ensuring labourers’ safety and coastal security at Alang shipbreaking yard in Bhavnagar district.

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala gave respondents two weeks’ time.

Earlier, the court had issued notices to Ship Recycling Industries Association of Alang, Gujarat Maritime Board, Union Ministries of Labour, Steel, Environment and Forests and Home Affairs, Gujarat Home Ministry and state Labour and Employment Department.

The PIL, filed by Bhavnagar resident Pradeepsinh Gohil, claims that workers of the famous ship-breaking industry at Alang lack housing, health and sanitation facilities that are guaranteed under the labour laws.

“Thousands of labourers are living in slums close to the shipbreaking yard with little or no sanitary facility. Workers die or sustain severe injuries owing to explosions, fire, falling steel plates, gas leakage, inadequate safely measures during cutting or by suffocation,” the petition says.

“However, there is a lack of full-fledged hospital to deal with emergency and life-threatening situations,” it says.

This apart, the area is vulnerable to terrorist attack, it says. “The police personnel at Marine police station near Alang shipbreaking yard do not have patrolling boats. There is no specialised commando unit or anti-terrorist squad,” it says.

The PIL has also demanded curbing of polluting practices at the yard. The next hearing is on 17 July.