Cabinet gives a big push to ratify IMO treaty on safe and green ship recycling

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on November 21, 2019

Representative image   -  REUTERS

India has become the first major ship recycling nation to ensure that end-of-life ships are dismantled in an environment-friendly and responsible manner

The Union Cabinet has approved the “Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019” and accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.

India has become the first major ship recycling nation to ratify a global rule that seeks to ensure that end-of-life ships are dismantled in an environment-friendly and responsible manner, giving a big push to the treaty’s entry into force.

The ‘Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships’ was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2009.

The Convention is yet come into force because it has not been ratified by 15 nations, representing 40 per cent of the world merchant shipping by gross tonnage (capacity) and a maximum annual ship recycling volume of not less than 3 per cent of the combined tonnage of the countries.

The Bill, when enacted by the Parliament, requires ship recycling facilities to obtain authorisation to operate and only authorised yards will be permitted to import ships for recycling. Ship-specific Ship Recycling Plans (SRPs) will need to be prepared for incoming vessels and incoming ships will need to obtain a “Ready for Recycling Certificate” in accordance with the HKC.

The accession of any shipping country can fulfil the first and the second conditions, but the third condition will be met only when two of the four major ship recycling countries - India, Bangladesh, China and Pakistan – accede.

When Germany acceded to the treaty in July this year as the 13th contracting state, it represented 29.42 per cent of the world merchant shipping tonnage, only 10.58 per cent short of the total required to satisfy the second condition.

When India accedes to the IMO’s treaty, after the approval by the Parliament, it will become the 14th contracting state to ratify the Convention out of the 15 required as per the first of the three conditions for it to take effect.

India’s accession will help meet the third condition of the convention. If China or Bangladesh now accede to the treaty, it will come into force globally.

“This truly is a hallmark moment towards the accession of the Hong Kong Convention by the largest ship recycling nation in the world,” said Anil Sharma, President and CEO of Global Marketing Systems, Inc, the world’s biggest cash buyer of ships for demolition, which has been lobbying for India to ratify the treaty.

“With this giant step, the Indian Government has ensured that not only on the micro-end, will the industry continue to operate while keeping worker health and safety of the environment at heart, but on the macro-end, a growing number of ship owners seeking Statement of Compliance (SoC) based green-recycling options can be certain that the authorities have added another layer of security for their incoming vessels,” Sharma added.

India - the key to unlocking Hong Kong Convention’s entry into force

Ahead of the cabinet approval, more than 77 ship recycling plots or some 65 per cent of the 120 working plots at Alang in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district – home to the world’s largest stretch of ship breaking beaches- have voluntarily upgraded their yards to comply with the Hong Kong Convention (HKC) standards and are certified with Statement of Compliance issued by global ship classification societies such as Japan’s ClassNK, Italy’s RINA and India’s IRClass.

“India was always the key to unlocking Hong Kong Convention’s entry into force and after a number of years waiting for India’s ship recycling industry to mature and embrace the technical standards of the Convention, and having witnessed that remarkable transformation, it is now most rewarding to see India’s Cabinet adopting the Convention as India’s own standard,” said Nikos Mikelis, non-executive director at GMS.

“Ratification of HKC is the need of the hour and we are one step closer to it,” said Anand Hiremath, Head, Research and Development and Lead Coordinator, Responsible Ship Recycling at GMS.

GMS’s Sharma said that the Bill eases the restrictions on non-European Union (EU) yards that are currently imposed by the EU Ship Recycling Regulations, enabling green ship in Alang to get more business.

India follows the beaching method for dismantling ships which is often subjected to criticism for its lax safety and health aspects.

Under the beaching method, ships are first grounded and then dismantled. The IMO Convention does not prohibit the dismantling of old ships by the beaching method, but this is not permitted under the EU rules.

None of the South Asian yards are in the list of yards approved by the European Union (EU).

Published on November 21, 2019

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