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Statement of concern on the flawed proposal for allocation of decision making to Union Ministry of Shipping under Shipbreaking Code 2013, Hong Kong Convention

Written By Krishna on Friday, March 29, 2013 | 1:57 AM



ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

To

Shri E K Bharat Bhushan
Chairperson
Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Shipbreaking
Union Ministry of Steel
Government of India
New Delhi

March 29, 2013
 
Subject- Statement of concern on the flawed proposal for allocation of decision making to Union Ministry of Shipping under Shipbreaking Code 2013, Hong Kong Convention

Sir,
Pursuant to our discussion in person on March 28, 2013 in your office, this is to draw your urgent attention towards the proposal for allocation of decision making about ship breaking/recycling to Union Ministry of Shipping under Shipbreaking Code 2013 which is deeply flawed. This is surprising because after you took over the sensitivity of the IMC towards the most vulnerable migrant workers involved in ship breaking is visible in the minutes of the IMC.  
We submit that the particular aspect of 53 page Shipbreaking Code 2013 regarding allocation of ship breaking related work to Ministry of Shipping needs to be re-visited in order to comply with the order of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
We wish to express strong reservation about the proposal mentioned at clause 8.3.6 in page 43 wherein it is stated that “In the event of any question arising out of the interpretation of any of the clauses of the regulations, the decision of the Ministry of Shipping shall be final”.  
We submit that the clause 1.3.7 of the Draft Code on Regulations for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling dated 30.9.2010 published by Union Ministry of Steel reads: “Since the subject matter of ship breaking at present remains with the Ministry of Steel as per the list of subjects allocated to the Ministry of Steel, under the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961, the Ministry of Steel will oversee implementation of the Code on Ship Recycling Regulations and be responsible for its amendments and updating. “ We are unable understand why this provision has been removed from the final Code.
We submit that in an affidavit filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court on July 16, 2012 by Shri Sugandh Shripad Gadkar, Deputy Director General (Technical), DG Shipping, Mumbai stated that the Ministry of Shipping “does not come in picture”. The affidavit was filed in the Writ Petition (Civil) No.657 of 1995. It is in this very petition that the Hon’ble Court gave the direction for creation of Code.  We wish to know if the Ministry of Shipping “does not come in picture” till July 16, 2012, which internal and external forces have brought it in the picture. The circumstances which led to this decision merit a high level inquiry because issues of shipbreaking are also linked to issues of maritime and national security as has been recorded repeatedly in the minutes of the IMC.
This aspect appears to be influenced by the supporters of the anti-India, Hong Kong Convention on ship breaking/recycling of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and proposed EU amendment to their Waste Shipment Regulation. This proposal is contrary to all the work done by Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Shipbreaking since its creation in 2004 in compliance with the order of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India dated October 14, 2003 in the Writ Petition (Civil) No.657 of 1995. The proposed allocation of decision making to Union Ministry of Shipping under Shipbreaking Code 2013 is in violation of the Hon’ble Court order and Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. It is an anti-worker and anti-environment step. 
We submit that a Union Ministry of Shipping informed the Rajya Sabha on August 10, 2010 about its failure to get “Different type of dangerous and Hazardous goods” lying at different ports from different dates starting from March 1983 removed. In a specific case of containers of “Methyl Monomer” lying at New Mangalore port, it was stated that it is there because of “Inadequate storage space in the factory premises of M/s BASF, Mangalore”, the importer. BASF is the world's largest producer of acrylic monomer. BASF is the largest chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Germany. Is it convincing that such a company has “Inadequate storage space in the factory premises”? The reply is attached.
We want to know as to what is the rationale of transferring decision making with regard to ship breaking to a ministry which has admittedly failed to save country’s coastal environment from “Different type of dangerous and Hazardous goods”.
We earnestly seek your attention towards the strong apprehension that European lobbies are at work to make Ministry of Shipping the focal point for ship breaking/recycling because the Ministry in question and Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) appear to have been persuaded to support IMO’s anti-environment and anti-worker Hong Kong Convention on Ship Recycling. GMB’s act of omission and commission are numerous. Their compliance record with the recommendations of IMC dated October 18, 2012 is a case in point. 
We strongly object to the clause 8.4.1 “(i) On ratification of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Convention on ship recycling by the Government of India and any subsequent changes to the IMO Convention on ship recycling” because this Convention is against India’s national interest. The text of the Convention was prepared by IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) at the behest of the ship owning companies of the developed countries in general and European one in particular. This Hong Kong Convention was adopted by the IMO in May 2009 amidst condemnation and criticism by groups working on human rights, environmental, labor and even the shipbreaking industry as it fails to prevent the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes found within obsolete ships. It does nothing to stop the human rights and environmental abuses of the infamous shipbreaking yards like the located on Alang beach. The Convention fails to comply with the letter and spirit of the Basel Convention with regard toxic wastes like end-of-life ships.
We strongly object to the meek endorsement of the Hong Kong Convention on the Recycling of Ships. The Hong Kong Convention does not represent an “equivalent level of control” to the Basel Convention as was called for by the Parties to that United Nations Environment Programme Convention. This promotes the status quo with regard to exploitation of workers and the coastal environment by the global shipping industry at the end of the life of a ship.
We submit that the Convention fails to reflect Basel Convention’s core obligation - minimisation of transboundary movements of hazardous waste, and as such will not prevent hazardous wastes such as asbestos, PCBs, old fuels, and heavy metals from being exported to the poorest communities and most desperate workers in developing countries.
It fails to end the fatally flawed method of dismantling ships known as “beaching” where ships are cut open on tidal flats. This is required because on a beach it is impossible to contain oils and toxic contaminants from entering the marine environment; safely use cranes alongside ships to lift heavy cut pieces or to rescue workers; bring emergency equipment to the workers or the ships and protect the fragile coastal environmental zone from the hazardous wastes on ships. It allows hazardous substances from end-of-life ships to enter India outwitting the motive of the Basel Convention and leaving a toxic legacy for generations to come. The Basel Convention covers the ship recycling and disposal but ship owners of the developed countries do not like it. In violation of the judgment of the Supreme Court of India which calls for prior decontamination of the ship in the country of export, the Hong Kong Convention fails to ensure the fundamental principle of “Prior Informed Consent”. The “reporting” takes place only after the hazardous waste ship arrives in the importing country’s territory that a competent authority has the right to object and the objection allowed is not to the importation but to the ship recycling plan or ship recycling facility permit.  Thus, India is forced to receive hazardous waste in the form of ships.  The Convention ignores Polluter Pays/Producer Responsibility Principle, Environmental Justice Principle, Waste Prevention/Substitution Principles and Principle of National Self Sufficiency in Waste Management.
We submit that the Convention grants legal recognition to externalization of the real costs and liabilities of ships at end-of-life by the shipping companies of Europe, USA, Japan and other developed countries. It does not provide an “equivalent level of control” to that provided by the Basel Convention. Even United Nations Commission on Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur has concluded that the Hong Kong Convention does not represent an Equivalent Level of Control, developed countries like USA, Japan and countries of European Union are complicit in writing the obituary of the Basel Convention’s rules against transfer of toxic waste to developing countries like India. The shipping companies of the developed countries have prevailed on UN’s IMO to create a legal regime that suits their commercial interest unmindful of the environmental and human cost setting a very bad precedent. These companies are so powerful that in order to make national laws and ministries subservient they have engineered the allocation of decision making regarding ship breaking from Union Steel Ministry to Union Shipping Ministry despite the fact that the latter does not have any competence to supervise secondary steel production.
We submit that the European Commission’s disregard for their legal obligations under the Basel Convention is influenced shipping companies to further facilitate the export of their hazardous end-of-life ships to countries like India. The European Commission’s proposal on ship recycling to amend European Waste Shipment Regulation was published on March 23, 2012.
We submit that the proposed amendment to the regulation seeks to remove end-of-life ships from the European Waste Shipment Regulation, which is the EU’s implementing legislation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and the Basel Ban Amendment. Both related UN norms prohibit the export of all forms of hazardous waste from EU Member States to non-OECD countries including end-of-life ships. The Basel Convention includes ships under its regime when they are to be recycled or disposed of and when they contain hazardous materials. Both the EU and each EU Member State have ratified the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban. Therefore, they have a treaty obligation to adhere to them but the proposed amendment is an act of EU attempting to desert Basel Convention and the Basel Ban. India has ratified the Convention. Government of India should ratify the Basel Ban to stop hazardous waste trade. 
We submit that under the Basel Convention end-of-life vessels are considered hazardous wastes and is sensitive to adverse impact of hazardous waste generating global shipping industry on coastal environmental health but the proposed IMO and EU legislations puts profit above gnawing environmental and occupational health concerns. The fact is that callousness and complicity with regard to environmental and occupational health makes them fit cases of corporate crimes. The European Commission’s proposal not only undermines the Basel Ban, which Europe has implemented and championed, it is also illegal under the Basel Convention. Any proposal to remove ships from the Waste Shipment Regulation is in breach of EU and EU Member States’ legal obligations under the Basel Convention. The EU’s proposed legislation attempting to unilaterally exempt a certain category of hazardous waste covered by the Basel Convention, namely end-of-life ships, from the control mechanisms of the Convention is illegal under international law and EU law. The stark act of European Commission unilaterally departing from its international legal obligations under the Basel Convention merits strong criticism.  
In view of the above, we request you to ensure that Ministry of Shipping is not handed over the task of decision making with regard to ship breaking and make efforts to ensure that entry of end-of-life ships are compliant with obligations under Basel Convention since the Hong Kong Convention does not provide “equivalent level of control” as it does not have legal competence to undertake environmentally sound disposal of such ships. 
We will share detailed comments on other aspects of the Shipbreaking Code 2013 shortly since we had given our comments on the Draft Code.
Thanking You 
Yours faithfully

Gopal Krishna
Convener  
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
New Delhi  
Mb: 9818089660
Phone: +91-11-2651781
Fax: +91-11-26517814
E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com
Web:
http://www.toxicswatch.com
Cc


Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister
Shri Beni Prasad Verma, Union Minister of Steel
Shri Anand Sharma, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry
Shri G K Vasan, Union Minister of Shipping
Shri A K Antony, Union Defence Minister
Smt Jayanthi Natrajan, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Shri Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Chairman & Members, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment & Forests
Chairman & Members, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism & Culture
Shri A K Seth, Cabinet Secretary, Government of India
Shri R K Singh, Secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs
Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping
Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests
Secretary, Union Ministry of Defence
Secretary, Union Ministry of Steel
Dr Mrutunjay Sarangi, Secretary, Union Ministry of Labour
Smt. Vijay Laxmi Joshi, Additional Secretary , Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Ms Meera Mehrishi, Additional Secretary, HSMD, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Shri Madhusudan Prasad, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry  Shri Rajeev Kher, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Ms Anita Agnihotri, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Shri Mukesh Bhatnagar, Additional DGFT, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Dr. Satish B. Agnihotri  Director General of Shipping & Ex. Officio Additional Secretary, Govt. of India
Shri J P Shukla, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping
Shri A C Buck, Director General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI), Union Ministry of Finance
Shri S.S. Bajaj, Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Mumbai
Ms Aditi Das Rout, Director, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Dr. Manoranjan Hota, Director, HSMD, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Shri Sanjay Parikh, Lawyer, Supreme Court
Member Secretary, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB)
Chairman, GPCB
Chairman, Gujarat Maritime Board
Shri S K Sharma, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
Shri L S Singh, Union Ministry of Steel
ACB, Gandhinagar, CBI
Office of Commissioner, Customs, Ahmedabad
Shri C A Joseph, Under Secretary, MF Desk, Union Ministry of Steel
Shri V. P. Patel, Collector, Bhavnagar District
Shri Maninder Singh Pawar, Superintendent of Police, Bhavnagar District



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