Thursday, February 09, 2006
Hit by hefty custom and excise duties and other taxes, Alang and Sosiya ship breaking yards, considered to be among the biggest in the world, are fast losing out business to Bangladesh, Pakistan and China. The ship breaking yard comprises a total of 173 plots along necklace shaped beach of Alang, which has been leased out by the Gujarat Maritime Board, the controlling authority of the ship-breakers.
Ship-breaking yard, AlangAt the peak of activity here as many as 150 plots are in operation, serviced by an estimated 35,000 workers, majority of them migrants. Since the yard started functioning in 1983, more than 4000 vessels have been dismantled here representing over 27 million LDT (Light displacement tonnage--the net weight used to calculate scrap value). In the 1990's the yard accounted for 90 per cent of the total ships broken in the world. But now the number of ships coming to the yard has drastically come down mainly due to heavy duties levied and also, partly, due to frequent protests by environmental groups who have been opposing the entry of the asbestos laden ships in the Indian shores, according to ship-breakers. The best years for the shipyard were 1996 to 2000 when most of the ship breaking plots were busy dismantling ships. In 1997 it broke 348 ship when it was at the peak of operations. Now most of the plots are empty. Last year it broke only 52 ships. While Alang is gasping for survival, it is Bangladesh Pakistan and China which are emerging as major ship breaking and recycling yards.