Out of 7500 k.m. coastline of India, why only Alang opted?
The Ship Breaking Industry of India is indeed a significant sector within the country’s maritime history. India has been involved in ship breaking for several decades, and it has emerged as one of the largest ship breaking nations in the world. Ship breaking refers to the process of dismantling decommissioned or old ships to recover valuable materials and components.
The ship breaking industry in India primarily operates in the coastal regions of Alang in Gujarat, Mumbai in Maharashtra, and a few other locations. Alang, located along the Gulf of Khambhat, is particularly renowned as one of the largest ship breaking yards globally. This industry has played a vital role in the economic development of these regions, providing employment opportunities for a significant number of people.
Process of Ship Recycling
The process of ship breaking typically involves several stages. When a ship reaches the end of its operational life or is no longer economically viable, it is brought to a ship breaking yard. The dismantling process begins with the removal of hazardous materials such as asbestos, oil, and chemicals to ensure environmental safety. The ship is then positioned on a sloping beach, and workers, often referred to as “ship breakers,” manually dismantle the vessel using cutting torches, cranes, and other machinery.
The ship breakers carefully extract and salvage various materials from the ship, including steel, copper, aluminum, and other non-ferrous metals. These materials are then recycled and sold to various industries for further use. Apart from metals, other valuable components like machinery, equipment, furniture, and even decorative items can also be recovered from the ships and sold in secondary markets.
While the ship breaking industry provides economic benefits and employment opportunities, it also provides secondary steel without utilizing power, water. The process of ship breaking involves the handling of hazardous materials, additionally, the disposal of waste generated during the dismantling process requires careful attention to prevent pollution of the surrounding land and water.
Eco friendly indusrty
Ship Recycling is viewed as an eco – friendly industry because it generates steel in large quantity without consumption of raw materials and resources like iron ore and coal in comparison to integrated steel plants. The industry in India produces about 4 MMT of steel every year. It employs 50,000 direct workers and provides employment to many more indirectly engaged in rolling mills, scrap trading, oxygen gas plants, logistics, real estate and the money market. The tax revenue generated by this industry alone is close to INR 25 Billion annually for the Central and State Government.
About Capt N.Sundaresan
According to Vishnukumar Gupta, President of Ship recycling industries association (India), Capt. Sundaresan, a Master Mariner from the 1960 batch of T.S.S. “DUFFERIN,” had extensive experience at sea and keenly observed the necessity for a suitable shipbreaking site in India. He conducted feasibility studies of potential sites on both coasts of India, particularly in Gujarat, ruling out unsuitable locations for shipbreaking activities. Today, shipbreaking sites in India include Haldia near Kolkata, Beypore in Kerala, Darukhana in Mumbai, Sachana close to Jamnagar, and Alang, located approximately 50 km from Bhavnagar.
Apart from his contributions to shipbreaking, Capt. Sundaresan was a respected Marine Barrister who practiced for various P & I Clubs in London. He developed expertise in marine law from a young age and played a pivotal role in facilitating the documentation for the sale and purchase of ships meant for scrap, now known as Memorandum of Agreement (M.O.A. – for Demolition Tonnage). He also served as an arbitrator in marine disputes. Additionally, Capt. Sundaresan worked as a Port Officer in Bhavnagar in 1968 and served as a Nautical Advisor to the Gujarat Government. His involvement was instrumental in the formation of the Gujarat Maritime Board.
During those times, Bhavnagar was a quiet town with limited shipbreaking activities. However, a significant event occurred in the late 1970s when a ship drifted uncontrollably towards Gopnath Point and ran aground. The shipowners decided to abandon the grounded vessel due to the high salvage cost. Capt. Sundaresan recognized the potential for shipbreaking at the grounding location, leading him to explore the coastal areas around Gopnath Point and the possibilities of establishing a regular port and shipbreaking site near port Alfred Victor.
How Alang has been invented?
In 1980, while beaching the ship M.V. “LEMPA” of Mansoor Taherbhai at Sachchana near Jamnagar, the ship beached far from the shore, prompting a debate about finding better beaching solutions for shipbreaking. Capt. Sundaresan suggested a stretch of land between Bhavnagar and Alfred Victor port as a perfect location with better facilities. The next day, while inspecting the Alang Lighthouse, Capt. Sundaresan noticed the feasibility of the shore, despite the undergrowth on the beachfront. He identified three potential sites, including the area north of Alfred Victor port, another further north, and one at Alang, where he saw definitive advantages such as a large tidal variation, a long coastline, and suitable gradients.
Visiting Alang village and the Alang Lighthouse, Capt. Sundaresan would make meticulous observations about the seashore, noting tidal conditions, current speed, wind speeds and directions, and potential hindrances caused by storms and monsoonal disturbances. Despite the lack of accurate data, he relied on his extensive experience and nautical knowledge to assess how far the sea would recede during low tides and how close it would come to the shore during high tides.
First ship kissed at Alang shore
The first ship, M.V. “KOTA TENJONG,” was ordered to anchor off Gopnath Point, but the master of the ship decided to anchor off Alang Lighthouse and subsequently beach the vessel on February 13, 1983, despite doubts and concerns.
Capt. N. Sundaresan’s relentless efforts, visionary outlook, and professional acumen played a crucial role in bringing the ship recycling industry to Gujarat and establishing Alang as a prominent shipbreaking site. His contributions and dreams have left a lasting impact on the industry, and his name will be remembered as the founder of the Alang Ship Recycling Yard, a testament to his vision and dedication.
How Alang adopted mordenization?
The Supreme Court banned import of hazardous and toxic waste identified under the BASEL Convention, which inspired the International Maritime Organisation to come up with global standards for ship recycling – The Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. India ratified the Hong Kong International Convention only in November 2019, but most ship-breakers and the Alang industry had voluntarily complied with the norms by then.
“Today, out of the 132 operational yards here, 110 have complied with Hong Kong (Statement of Compliance) certifications, including multiple ISO certifications from global agencies like Class NK, IR Class, Llyod’s Register, Bureau Veritas and RINA,” says Komalkant Sharma, CMD, Leela Group of Companies, and one of the largest ship-breakers at Alang. Another 10 yards are in the process of getting the Hong Kong (Statement of Compliance) certifications (HKC) and the remaining are expected to comply by 2023-2024.