Home » » Majestic beauty of deaths on the beaches of Gadani, Chittagong and Alang amidst talk of protecting costal biodiversity

Majestic beauty of deaths on the beaches of Gadani, Chittagong and Alang amidst talk of protecting costal biodiversity

Written By Krishna on Saturday, October 20, 2012 | 11:15 PM

Note: The death toll officially admitted in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh is rarely truthful.  Ecocide and industrial genocide continue routinely in Gadani on the Arabian Sea, Chittagong on Bay of Bengal and Alang on Gulf of Khambat . High level probes in these former colonies of British empire is reserved for deaths of politicians, not for migrant workers. Coastal biodiversity amidst the deaths of migrant workers does not have news value. These deaths are reported only in the local editions of the newspapers and local channels. 

Democratic elections keep happening but the fate of these most vulnerable workers remains unchanged. Gadani, Chittagong and Alang have seceded from Indian subcontinent and joined the territories of their colonial masters. US, Japan and European countries are convinced of the impeccable economic logic of transferring hazardous wastes and end-of-life ships to poorer countries advanced by a World Bank's Chief Economist. Judiciary in these countries have failed to provide any legal remedy despite being seized with the issue. Wolves of all sorts on the prowl to make profits on the dead bodies. Each dead body of a migrant worker in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh de-legitimizes the existence of democratic institutions and makes them empty of any meaning.       

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance   

Pakistan's Gadani shipbreaking yard: Three labourers crushed, several hurt
Quetta—At least three labourers died and several others injured when heavy load fell over them while working in the Gadani shipbreaking yard on the Balochistan coast here Friday. According to details, labourers were busy in routine work at the shipbreaking yard, about 50 kilometres northwest of Karachi, when heavy iron material from a ship's deck fell on them.

Three labourers were killed on the spot while several others sustained wounds. The injured labourers were rushed to Karachi hospital for treatment where according to hospital condition of some of them was serious. It should be mentioned that Gadani shipbreaking yard is one of the world's largest ship breaking operations where ship breaking has been taking place since before Pakistan's independence. Thousands of local labourers work in unsafe conditions, often for a pittance.

With annual capacity of breaking over a hundred ships of all sizes, the yard is located on a 10 km stretch of beach at Gadani, 50 kilometres from Karachi city. Thousands of Karachiites daily visit the Gadani beach for its majestic beauty. Fires and accidents are common in the shipbreaking yard
where workers extract metals, steel pipes and valves, electricity cables, machinery and wood from derelict ships.

Pak Observer. 20 October 2012

Alang ship yard fire toll at 6, probe continues
    Various agencies continued to conduct investigations into Saturday's
    explosion and fire onboard a beached tanker at the Alang-Sosiya Ship
    Recycling yard.  
    The mishap onboard MT Union Brave killed five workers on the spot while
    another died during treatment on Sunday. One worker is being treated for
    severe burns.

    As per protocol, the Gujarat Maritime Board, the nodal agency at the yard,
    Sunday sealed plot no. 82, where the accident took place, pending the
    completion of enquiries.

     Sources said officers from the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health
    (DISH), the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), the
    Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), the police and GMB visited the plot
    for investigations by Monday evening.
    No definitive clues appear to have been dug out as yet, though most
    officials believe the workers must have used gas cutters to open a
    compartment or pipeline containing inflammable material near the pump-room
    instead of using spanners to unbolt screws.
    Indian Express. 9 October 2012

16-Year-Old Boy Crushed to Death at Shipbreaking Yard in Bangladesh

16-year-old Khorshed Alam was crushed to death at 3:30 am on July 17 when a
huge metal plate fell on him.

This was Khorshed Alam's first job. He left school to help support his
family. He lied about his age, claiming he was 20 years old in order to be
hired at the SRS shipbreaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Supervisors
always put the kids on the night shift, knowing no one will ever inspect
the yards at night.

Sixteen-year-old Khorshed Alam worked a 12-hour shift, from 7:00 pm to 7:00
am This is the season of the monsoon rains in Bangladesh. There was
constant driving rain and strong wind gusts. Often the workers went
barefoot walking in six inches or more of mud.The senior “cutter man” was
using his blow torch to cut apart a huge metal plate which had been dragged
from the dismantled ship. Khorshed was on the other side of metal plate.
It was 3:00 am on July 17, when a heavy gust of wind toppled the iron slab,
which fell on Khorshed, crushing him to death.

It took half an hour for his co-workers to finally lift the slab off his
body They raced him to the Chittagong Medical College Hospital, but he was
declared dead on arrival.

Khorshed Alam was paid just 25 cents an hour, and $2.75 a day. He and his
co-workers toiled an 11-hour, all-night shift, doing one of the most
dangerous jobs in the world, dismantling huge cargo ships with their bare
hands. The senior “cutter men,” who use their blow torches to cut apart the
ships, earn just 40 cents an hour and $4.45 for the 11 hours of work.

 Sixteen-year-old Khorshed Alam was so slight and young, that all the
shipbreakers did everything they could to protect this child, but he was
still killed.

Khorshed's life was worth just $244, at least according to the owner of the
SRS Shipbreaking Yard, Mr. Abdullah Al Mamun. Mr. Mamun is the son of a
local member of Bangladesh's parliament, Mr. ABM Abul Qasem, who is himself
a wealthy shipyard owner. Everything about this and other shipbreaking
yards is blatantly illegal. Under Bangladeshi law, no one under 18 years of
age is permitted to work in unsafe or hazardous working conditions. Nor are
children allowed to work the night shift. But that is exactly where the
children are placed, on the night shift, when inspectors never visit the
shipbreaking yards.

Workers at the SRS yard have no ID cards, no work contracts, no employment
appointment letter. It is as if these workers are hourly and daily contract
laborers who have absolutely no benefits or legal rights.

The only thing the workers get from the shipyard owner is a pair of cheap
gloves every 15 days. The workers could use boots, but they never get them.
The drinking water in the yard is heavily polluted. There is no place in
the shipyard to eat. A doctor is available for just four hours during the
day shift. There is no ambulance in the yard for workers who are badly
injured and need to be raced to a hospital.

When the Daily Star newspaper in Bangladesh called Mr. Abdullah Al Mamum,
the owner of the SRS Shipbreaking Yard, he responded that he knew nothing
about the accident. In fact he was in the capital of Dhaka and not in
Chittagong. He said “no one worked during such ungodly hours at his yard.”
If he were telling the truth, the 16-yrad-old boy would not be dead.

There are approximately 170 workers at the SRS Shipbreaking Yard which
operates around the clock, with back to back day and night shifts.
The ship Khorshed and the other workers were cutting apart was the Kang Hua
cargo ship (IMO 8128092) which was built in 1983 in Ulsan, South Korea, by
Hyundai. The 24,000-ton ship appears to have been owned by Dragon Wealth
Shipping Ltd. in Fujian, China.

Global Labour Rights. 19 July 2012

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