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Colonisation of Azhikkal area for shipbreaking must be stopped

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 | 9:40 AM



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. 

Gopal Krishna
ToxcicsWatch Alliance (TWA) 

Protest against SILK Unit to be Intensified

KANNUR:Alleging that the district authorities have given additional time to the ship-breaking unit of the Steel Industrials Kerala Ltd (SILK) to obtain licences from the Pollution Control Board and the civic body, the Kappalpoli Virudha Samithi (Committee against Ship-breaking) has decided to extend its stir to various parts of the district.
A protest meeting was held at Puthiyatheru on Monday which was inaugurated by Dr D Surendranath. Similar meets will be held at Mattool and Valapattanam in the next two days, committee leader M K Manoharan said.
He alleged that the District Collector had failed to make any effective intervention in the issue of environmental and health hazards caused by the ship-breaking unit, and that he was compelled to yield to the pressure tactics of political forces. Protesting against the Collector’s stance, the stir would be extended to the Civil Station premises soon.
“Prominent political parties like the CPM, IUML and the Congress have been adopting an apathetic stance towards the issue and it is suspected that the benamis of some leaders have links with the ship-breaking industry,” Manoharan alleged.Hundreds of people took part in the mass satyagraha held on Sunday.
Artist Mohammed T had made a sand sculpture symbolising the men crushed beneath the ‘pollutant’ ships brought for dismantling. “The sculpture is dedicated to the common men of Azhikkal who joined the protest and have been isolated by powerful political groups,” protest committee member Shajahan said.
The protesting locals including fishermen alleged that Azhikode MLA K M Shaji, who took pride in being labelled as a ‘green MLA’, was viewing the protest with scant regard.
 The MLA was not available for comment.
Yet to Discuss Issue: CPM
The CPM is yet to discuss the alleged environmental and occupational hazards associated with the ship-breaking unit of the SILK at Azhikkal, district secretary P Jayarajan has said. He was speaking to ‘Express’ on Monday in the wake of trade unions, including the CITU, taking a pro-SILK stance. “Since no one has raised the issue before the party, there has not been a chance for the CPM to seriously involve in the issue,” he said.
When asked about the alleged miserable working conditions of migrant workers at the ship-breaking site, he said that the agitators were not raising the problems of workers but they were more concerned about environmental issues.

27th May 2014
The New Indian Express  

Tension at SILK Protest Venue; 26 Held, Released

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 police arrested 26 activists, including Samithi leader M K Manoharan and convener M Shajahan, who were later released on bail.
Hundreds of traditional fishermen, fish merchants and boat crew joined the sea strike called by the Araya Samajam, Fishermen Health Protection Council, Azhikkal Boat Owners Association, Vallakkar Samrakshana Samithi (an organisation of traditional fishermen) and All-Kerala Fish Merchants Union.
Around 8 am, the protesters moved in country boats and laid siege to the vessels brought for dismantling and asked the workers there to cooperate with the stir.
“We spoke to the migrant workers from Gujarat in their language specifying the occupational hazards and they agreed to stop the work. We also asked them to ensure safety precautions if they were forced to continue the job,” M K Manoharan said.
The agitators who later laid siege to the entrance to SILK were arrested by the Valapattanam police.
Meanwhile, an all-party delegation comprising leaders of the CPM, Congress, Indian Union Muslim League  and the BJP held talks with the SILK management. The area witnessed tense scenes as protesters wanted the party leaders to reveal the details of the talks which they allegedly refused to divulge.
The protest venue also witnessed heated arguments between the police and the activists. Various environmental organisations like GreensGa and Civil Rights Protection Council also extended support to the stir on Monday.
Dr D Surendranath, N Prabhakaran, Karingalkuzhi Krishnan, Devadas Talap and others addressed the protesters. 
 
The New Indian Express

Stir against ship-breaking unit at Azhikkal begins

 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.

The Hindu
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