While so far it may have been competing with neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh, India's very own ship recycling yard based out of Alang in Gujarat will now compete with major yards in the US, European countries and China, thanks to the Gujarat government 'Green Alang' initiative.
As part of the initiative, eco-friendly infrastructure is being developed in the region, apart from best practices and healthcare issues being taken care of for the welfare of the workers. "Ship recycling, at times, involves some hazardous operations which the green initiative intends to minimise. Water treatment plant, insulators, fixed working hours and waste handling facilities are some of the things being developed at Alang. Such eco-friendly practices are a must if we need to cater to several major international clients who demand strict norms to be followed by any ship recycling yard. As of now, only the likes of the US, Europe and China are able to provide such a quality," said Nikhil Gupta, joint secretary of Ship Recycling Industries Association (India) at Alang.
The yard at Alang, which enjoys a share of 50-60 per cent of the total ships recycled in the world, offers a lucrative price of $425 per tonne for steel. Yet, major clients including Maersk opts for China for ship recycling in spite of the country offering $325 per tonne. "We offer attractive prices for recycled steel yet companies like Maersk opt for China because of the recycling quality. With the green development around Alang, soon this will change as we will also be able to provide international quality that will match the likes of China, the US and Europe," said Gupta.
To begin with, Alang will soon provide gas-free certification for in-bound ships, something that other major ship recycling yards have been providing. "Gas-free certification requires approval of a ship for recycling wherein the oil-sludge on a ship is removed. In India all in-bound ships are currently cleaned for gas-free certification in Dubai which costs around $10-15 per tonne for ship owners. Ship owners will be able to save that cost once Alang begins to provide such a facility too soon," Gupta added.
Add to that, the Gujarat Maritime Board is also setting up training sites for skill development of workers in the ship recycling industry at Alang. Also, while GMB will provide land and infrastructure, ship breakers will develop housing colonies for workers.
Meanwhile, the ship recycling industry is bustling with activity. As against 70 plots in 2008-09, there are currently 170-odd ship recycling plots at Alang wherein three million tonnes of steel is recycled every year. At Rs 25 per kg, the industry pegs a turnover of Rs 7,500 crore at Alang.
Source: Vinay Umarji / Mumbai/ Ahmedabad November 19, 2010, 0:18 IST