Note: ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) expresses its solidarity with the Kappalpoli Virudha Samithi (Committee against Ship-breaking), Azhikkal which is protesting against shipbreaking in the Azhikkal area demanding stoppage of ship-breaking operations till the study was completed. Legislators must support this struggle to prevent colonisation of the Azhikkal area by the shipping companies of the developed world.
ToxcicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
27th May 2014
The New Indian Express
The venue of protest against the ship-breaking unit of the Steel Industries Kerala Ltd (SILK) at Azhikkal witnessed tense scenes on Monday, following a ruckus between police and activists of the Kappalpoli Virudha Samithi (Committee against Ship-breaking).
The vessel-breaking unit of the public sector Steel Industries Kerala Ltd. (SILK) at Azhikkal here has rejected the demand of an action committee of local residents that the ongoing work of dismantling four ships-for-scrap in its yard be stopped, pending a study on alleged health hazards and environmental problems in the area.
The action committee began its indefinite relay fast on Tuesday demanding that the ship-breaking works be stopped, as it was causing health and environmental problems for the residents of the area.
SILK officials, however, said there was nothing to prove that the alleged environmental and health problems were caused by the ship-breaking works that strictly adhered to all pollution-control norms of various government agencies.
The ship-breaking unit was under the scanner in 2003 when activists of Greenpeace alleged that the yard was causing huge environmental problems.
“Residents in the area are the victims of various health and environmental hazards from the ship-breaking activities in the SILK unit,” said L.K. Manoharan of the action committee. He said agitation was launched, as the SILK management had rejected the demand for suspending the ongoing dismantling works.
The SILK unit management said that nearly 25 ships-for-scrap had been dismantled at the yard since the unit was started in 1984. There was no complaint about environmental and health problems from the local residents and workers in the unit.
When contacted SILK Managing Director A. Aubid said that local MLA K.M. Shaji had proposed during a recent meeting of representatives of the action committee and the SILK that he would recommend to the State government to sponsor a detailed study on the environmental issues in the Azhikkal area. The agitators, however, urged the unit to stop ship-breaking operations till the study was completed, he said. The SILK unit here has been out of the red for the past few years, as it has been receiving the orders for breaking old vessels. The unit employs nearly 100 workers.