3 March 2014 – The NGO Shipbreaking Platform has applauded the Bangladesh iForest Department and the District Administration for closing down two shipbreaking yards, known as one of the worlds’ biggest toxic ship graveyards, located on the country’s Southeast coast.
SK Steel and SK Ship Breaking and Recycling were able to lease land in Chittagong illegally in 2009, chop down over 14,000 mangrove trees and start importing end-of-life ships for breaking on the beach.
“Today, Bangladesh sends a clear signal to the global maritime industry and those involved in shipbreaking: we do not want your ships polluting our environment and endangering the lives of our communities,” said Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
With regards to the tree-cutting, the Department of Forest, an agency of the Ministry of Environment and Forest that protects and manages the forests of Bangladesh, filed a case against the illegal shipbreaking yards in 2009.
Then in 2010, the High Court declared four shipbreaking yards illegal that had been set up afterthe tree-cutting and asked for afforestation. But shipbreaking continued in the yards and the trees were not replanted.
Bangladesh is regularly struck by cyclones and floods that inundate villages and leave thousands of families without a home or a livelihood. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform said that the presence of trees along the coastal belt helps to prevent erosion and mitigate this flooding.
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has now ordered that all trees be replanted.
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