Japan Backs Ship Beaching Yards in India

Ship recylcing at Leela Ship Recycling Pvt in India. Photo credit: GMS
Ship recylcing at Leela Ship Recycling Pvt in India. Photo credit: GMS

A delegation of industry and government stakeholders from Japan has expressed some support of certain ship recycling yards in Alang, India after seeing first-hand the efforts being made by some facilities to meet the terms of internationally-agreed rules for ship beaching.

The four-day fact finding visit to Alang, arranged by Global Marketing Systems (GMS), the world’s largest cash buyer of ships for recycling, was attended by a 14-strong Japanese delegation, which included officials from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; the Japanese Shipowners Association; Jetro; shipping companies K-Line and JX Ocean; ClassNK; Japanese Labour Union; and Japan Marine Science.

The delegation visited Alang with the intention of assessing the quality of beach recycling yards in the region and to encourage India to meet the standards of the Hong Kong Convention. Adopted in 2009, the Convention is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and to the environment.

After returning from the visit, Akihiro Tamura, Director of Shipbuilding Policy at the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro), expressed that the four top level yards in the region – Leela Ship Recycling, Priya Blue Industries, Kalthia Shipbreaking and Shree Ram Vessel Scrapping – all seem to be very close to meeting to the standards of the Hong Kong Convention and that these recycling yards, and others like them in Pakistan and Bangladesh, should be rewarded by winning more business.

“Of course we would like to support larger numbers of yards in the region, but naturally there is some constraint regarding budget and time,” said Mr. Tamura. “However, our ultimate wish and purpose in providing assistance to India is to encourage the Indian government to move towards accession to the Hong Kong Convention.”

“The Indian recycling industry plays a vital role in international ship recycling and in order to ensure a sound and safe ship recycling industry, those beaching recycling facilities in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh should be included into the global scheme of sound ship recycling. We want the Indian recycling yards and we want the Indian government to join the global recycling framework, or Hong Kong Convention,” Mr. Tamura added.

Japan is so supportive of the Indian ship recycling sector that it is moving towards providing Official Development Assistance to upgrade facilities and improve operations in the region, although the exact details of such an agreement between the two countries have not yet been decided.

“We have a strategy that includes the Japanese government supporting Indian yards to upgrade and also for ClassNK to support these yards through consultancy services and ultimately certification,” Mr. Tamura said. “Japanese ship owners will be willing to send their ships to ‘safe and environmentally sound’ ship recycling yards in India and other countries and the entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention is a very important step to realizing this goal. Our ultimate purpose is to help all concerned to move towards accession to the Hong Kong Convention and all our efforts will be focused in this direction,” he said.

GMS’ invitation comes following a recent plea to top level shipping industry stakeholders to come India to witness improvements at some of Alang’s top ship recycling facilities.

“We have already invited legislators from the European Commission, maritime administrations, IMO, as well as global ship owner representatives to visit the area and the invitation is still open,” said Nikos Mikelis, Non-executive Director of GMS.

“Separately, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) should be invited to hold a workshop/seminar in India to not only raise awareness of the improvements which have been made there but to inform and educate other yards as to what is needed to conform to the terms of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships,” he said.