The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, has approved a cabinet proposal for the country to accede to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.
Under the new Bill, India’s ship recycling facilities will have to be properly authorized and all vessels due for recycling will have to have a clear ship-specific recycling plan, in accordance with the convention.
The IMO adopted the Hong Kong Convention in 2009 to ensure ships being recycled at the end of their operational lives don't pose any unnecessary risks to human health and safety, or the environment.
According to classification society IRClass, India has more than 150 ship recycling yards along its coast.
It’s estimated the country handles six million gross tonnes of ship recycling annually – a third of the world’s entire ship recycling industry – a figure the Indian government wants to increase to nine million gross tonnes annually by 2024.
NGO Shipbreaking Platform reports that India’s ship recycling yards have ‘abysmal working conditions’, relying on untrained migrants workers who come to the yards seasonally from poor agricultural areas.
“Accession to the Hong Kong Convention will now help to increase environmental protection and workers’ safety – and give India a greater competitive edge in the international ship recycling sector,” says government minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
"We will be bringing in global best practices, and will no longer be seen as simply a backyard for all of the world’s rejected ships.”
Sitharaman insists that the move will also encourage global funds to invest in India’s ship recycling centres.
"A lot of international agencies are looking at our high-class recycling centres," she says. "And through this accession, we hope to get better assistance from international investors who want to fund our ship recycling centres.”