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Storm over ship-breaking proposal at Kakinada

Ch. R. S. Sarma

The Andhra Pradesh Government feels that ship-breaking units at Kakinada will create greater employment opportunities for the fishermen, while environmentalists have opposed the proposal in view of the environmental implications.

THE new Congress Government of Andhra Pradesh has stirred the proverbial hornet's nest by announcing its intention to give permission for ship-breaking units at Kakinada, stating that this will create greater employment opportunities for the fishermen dependent on the old anchorage port and, in general, lead to the prosperity of the region.

Environmentalists, local organisations and associations of fishermen themselves have opposed the proposal in view of the environmental implications. "It is a disastrous proposal and it will certainly turn Kakinada into another Alang. We oppose the move tooth and nail. Even the fishermen are unhappy with it. The Government should give up the idea,'' says Dr T. Patanjali Sastry, president of the Centre for Environment, Rajahmundry.

Dr Sastry said that ship-breaking is recognised to be one of the most polluting activities, with the toxic discharges jeopardising all forms of life. "All the regulations have been broken at Alang in Gujarat and the migrant workers there are working in horrible conditions. The Supreme Court recently gave clear directions which should be followed before bringing a ship in for breaking. There should be total detoxification of the ship before before breaking it. But we feel that those rules will only be observed in the breach. Kakinada does not need ship-breaking for its sustenance.''

Mr D. Surya Rao, president of the Cocanada Chamber of Commerce, said that in view of the apprehensions expressed by environmental activists and also the Alang experience, the State Government should tread cautiously. "Of course, it is a very profitable activity. It also generates employment. But the attendant hazards should also be weighed very carefully and a decision should be taken only after that.''

Mr J. Ramamohana Rao, Minister for Roads and Buildings who is in charge of minor ports in the State, said at Kakinada that the Government has not yet arrived at a decision. "We have taken note of the objections raised by several sections to the proposal. We have referred the matter to experts for a careful appraisal of the proposal and a decision will be taken after receiving their report. All environmental safeguards will be taken in the event of okaying the proposal.'' The State Government, however, is still of the view that ship-breaking will bring prosperity to the region and several ancillaries will come up in its wake, he added.

It remains to be seen whether the State Government will finally give the green signal to ship-breaking at Kakinada.

More Stories on : Shipping | Environment | Employment | Andhra Pradesh

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