The Daily Star – Govt free to beef up law

13 November 2012 - The apex court’s stay on a High Court order to shut all ship-breaking yards without environmental clearance lost effect yesterday, as Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association withdrew its appeal against the HC verdict.

It means the 2009 HC verdict that asked the government to strictly regulate the ship-breaking industry comes into effect. The HC had also ordered the government to restrict entry of ships that had not been cleared of hazardous materials at source or outside the country.

Following a writ petition by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), the HC had directed the government to frame necessary rules on ship breaking in three months in the light of six laws.

The laws are Basel Convention Act, 1989; Bangladesh Environment Protection Act, 1995; Bangladesh Marine and Fisheries Ordinance, 1989; Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006; Bangladesh Territorial Water and Maritime Zone Act, 1974; and Environment Protection Rules, 1997.

But the association quickly moved against the HC verdict and had the Supreme Court on March 23, 2009 stay a part of the judgment involving environment clearance and restriction on entry of hazardous ships. The association also filed a regular appeal against the HC verdict.

The association’s counsel Anisul Huq told the Supreme Court yesterday that his client wanted to withdraw the appeal with the Appellate Division, as the HC directives have already been implemented and the government has framed rules on ship breaking.

On January 12, the SC sent two rules on ship breaking to the HC to examine whether the government had framed them in line with the 2009 HC directives.

One of the rules — Ship Breaking and Ship Recycling Rules, 2011 — was issued through an industries ministry gazette on December 12 last year.

The ministry later amended the rule in compliance with SC’s December 14 directive which said the rule had not ensured the protection of workers and the environment.

The second one — Hazardous Waste and Ship Breaking Management Rules 2011 — was issued through a gazette by environment and forests ministry on December 22 last year.

Bela’s lawyer, Iqbal Kabir Lytton said the HC’s full verdict now comes into force.

He said ships can be imported for dismantling if those are decontaminated in line with the HC verdict.