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Workers dismantle a decommissioned ship at the Alang shipyard
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Is the IMO conning India?

Text: Gopal Krishna

April 25, 2009

Migrant workers in Gujarat's Alang beach, the graveyard of the world's used ships, have been deprived of full legal protection by any national law since 1983.

Now, a UN law is all set to further increase their burden.

Trade unions and NGOs working in the fields of workers' rights, human rights, environment and health have complete lack of faith in the proposed UN treaty on ship breaking/ ship recycling through the International Maritime Organization, a UN body, because its objectives are regressive in nature.

The draft IMO convention on the safe recycling of ships is a text has been prepared at the behest of the global shipping industry in general and European ship owning countries and ship owners in particular.

It legitimises the ongoing exploitation of workers, villagers and the marine environment at the end of the life of a ship.

Image: Workers dismantle a decommissioned ship at the Alang shipyard, about 260 km west of Ahmedabad. Alang is home to the world's largest ship breaking facility on the coast of Gujarat state. | Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

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