The Times of India – Row over ship-breaking unit intensifies

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26 May 2016 - The row over the ship-breaking unit of the Steel Industries Kerala Ltd (SILK) in Azhikkal here is intensifying again with the management beginning the work saying that they have a court order to resume the work. Meanwhile, the action committee has decided to intensify the stir saying this causes huge pollution leading to health issues.

According to police, which is now giving protection to the unit following the challenge from the action committee that they would organize an agitation there, the SILK management had shown them the order from the additional munsif court in Kannur, as per which there is no stay in ship breaking.

“Despite this if the action committee continues agitation, we will be compelled to take action against them,” said Valappattanam SI T P Sreejith, who held discussions with the SILK management and the action committee representatives.

However, the management is taking the police for a ride by showing partial document and there is a clear instruction in a plea filed by a ship owner that the parts already broken can be removed from the spot but the court has clearly asked SILK not to do ship breaking anywhere near the estuary or Valappatanam River.

“In a way, by providing them protection to break the ship, the police are violating the court order and hence we would take it up legally,” said action committee chairman M K Manoharan. In the name of the court vacating an interim stay, the police have gone against the court order in another case, he said adding that the action committee has filed a petition with the district police chief.

The SILK management is so adamant because the entire operation of the unit is not transparent and they are trying to create the impression that everything is done in an environmental-friendly manner, though health problems have begun in many places, said the action committee.

The ship breaking unit here was started in 1984, which has broken to scrap over 25 vessels so far. It has also built 63 small vessels for the government as well as private agencies. However, for the last many years, the local residents are on agitation following health issues due to the pollution. But the authorities ignored the opposition and they are continuing the illegal ship breaking in a thickly populated area, said the action committee members.