Murder in Gadani, business as usual in Alang & Chittagong

According to American Chronicle report dated May 09, 2008, in few recent reports on Bangladesh ship-break industries, it has been emphasized that Bangladesh has emerged as a major ship-breaking destination in South Asia.

An average of 150-200 vessels is being scrapped in Bangladesh every year according to one report. Bangladesh is getting a competitive edge over its rival in neighboring countries like India and Pakistan.

Both India and Pakistan generate around 4,000 tonnes of scrap steel per vessel, while Bangladesh generates 12,000-15,000 tonnes of scrap steel per vessel according to the data provided by the report.

A high official of Ship Recycling Industries Association of India have confessed that "Indian Ship-breakers are losing business to Bangladesh" in an interview.

In the meanwhile, Narendra Modi led state government of Gujarat has engaged the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL&FS), a firm to explore development, maintenance and operation of the Alang ship breaking yard located off the Bhavnagar coast. The firm has been asked to submit its study report to the government in six months.

The government has agreed to pay Rs 46 lakh as consultancy fee to the firm to carry out a comprehensive study relating to various aspects, including infrastructure upgradation at the yard, economics of ship-breaking and an assessment of the size and growth of global ship-breaking market and potential market share in ship-breaking that Alang could garner in the days to come.

An internal note prepared by the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) notes that it has inked an agreement with the IL&FS to conduct this study, says the agency will produce a development plan to convert Alang into a commercially successful ship recycling yard.

The note further says the study will also touch other aspects, including measures to make Alang perform as per the international standards and to also promote it as a "green recycling facility".

In the last five years, the yard has witnessed a steep decline in the number of ships it receives for recycling. As against the 333 ships dismantled at the yard in 2001-02, it received only 294 and 200 ships in the following two years. The number further slid to 196 in 2004-05 and 101 the next year.

The number of ships that visited Alang for breaking in 2006-07 and 2007-08 were 136 and 135. At present, only 90 ships have come for dismantling.

Elsewhere in South Asia, Lloyd's List reported that chairman of Pakistan Ship Breakers' Association shot dead by unidentified gunmen. Chairman of the Pakistan Ship Breakers' Association, Azam Malik, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen as he travelled from Gadani to Karachi.

Malik, along with other Pakistani businessmen active in the shipbreaking sector, had been a vocal critic of scrap smuggling activity on the Pakistani-Afghan border.

The murder of one of Pakistan's most prominent members of the shipbreaking industry brought yards at Gadani to a halt in May 2008.


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