After ships, Alang now turns to scrap cars

On India's Western coast, a small town has been topping in EU discussions for quite some time now. Alang, positioned in the Indian state of Gujarat is the largest graveyard for ships all over the world, with around 40 percent of the world's ships getting discarded in the Indian heartland.

With the increase in the yard’s popularity around the world, there has also been a steep increase in the number of threats posed by the ship-breaking yard to the marine environment and laborers working there. The EU has been talking about this for quite some time now.

Now, the yard is quickly opting to alter its working, capitalizing on low labor wages and the proximity to steel plants in the region. The Indian government is evaluating a plan to disassemble and recycle end-of-life vehicles at this port town in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district.

The proposal for the same is being drafted by an inter-ministerial panel, and a presentation has already been pitched to the Indian Prime Minister for drafting a scrapping policy. The panel has already finalized its report, as per multiple government officials.

Government officials hope to maximize the existing infrastructure already in place at Alang and help use the cheap scrap steel extracted as input for India's manufacturing sector.

Major Indian steelmakers like Tata Steel, owned by the Tata group, which also owns Jaguar, and the Liberty group are looking to enter the scrap recycling segment. Tata Steel has already set up a recycling plant in nearby Rohtak, Haryana.

Backing for the initiative has also come from The Ship Recycling Industries Association (SRIA), which plans to double the steel scrap output to 5 million light displacement tonnage (LDT) from the present 2 million LDT. In technical terms, LDT refers to the weight of a ship’s hull, machinery, equipment, and spares, forming the basis on which ships are generally retailed for scrap.

The proposal also includes a plan to ensure the smooth functioning of the Shipbreaking industry in India. The association also wants the recycling yards to be transformed into an independent body under the National Authority for Recycling of Ships that is managed by India's Shipping Ministry. This will solve the problem of multiple agencies administering at Alang which delays the finalization of questions relating to the industry.

Unlike other countries, India possesses very loose marine environmental protection policies, which have lead to irreversible harm to the surrounding flora and fauna. Several beautiful coral reefs near the Indian coasts have been destroyed and the marine life in the affected area has gone haywire.

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