Bangladesh Supreme Court Allows Ship Breaking To Continue
Author: Serajul Quadir
A worker washes his hands in the river at a ship-breaking yard in Chittagong August 19, 2009.
Photo: Reuters/Andrew Biraj
Bangladesh's Supreme Court agreed on Monday to allow ship breaking yards more time to meet tougher safety and environmental rules, allowing them to operate until at least mid-October.
Judges backed a lower court's ruling two weeks ago that extended the deadline for the $1.5 billion ship scrap industry to implement strict government rules aimed at protecting workers and reducing the level of pollution.
"The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High Court and we will be able to import and dismantle old ships until the extended date," Salah Uddin, an advisor of the Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association, told Reuters. The deadline is October 12.
Rights activists had hoped the court would reinstate a year-long ban on the industry, saying its activities remained too dangerous for workers and too costly for the environment. The ban was lifted in March.
The High Court lifted the ban after industry vowed to adopt strict rules to protect workers, such as an age limit of at least 18, training and proper safety gear, and cleansing of toxic material from ships prior to arrival.
Bangladesh, the top ship recycling nation from 2004 through 2008, hopes to bring in around 300 ships by the end of next year, up from 220 in 2009 before the ban, traders said.
Scrapped ships are the main source of steel for the impoverished nation, which requires around 4 million tonnes each year.
(Editing by Michael Urquhart)