Ship breaking is leading to alarming environmental pollution along the coast under Sitakunda upazila in Chattogram.
The breaking of old scrap ships is the prime cause of seawater, air and local environment pollution in the area.
Experts say the violating of environmental laws and steps to deny the DoE have been rising among the scrap ship importers recently. As a result, the scrap ships risky to the environment as well as those that pollute the water and area are being scrapped at different ship breaking yards in the coastal area of Sitakunda upazila in Chattogram without legal permission from the DoE.
Meanwhile, experts say, the Industry Ministry has no authority to permit breaking of ships following the rules drafted by the ministry, as the draft has not been given the green light by the High Court, and gazetted.
They also said that the draft rules framed by the Industry Ministry are full of contradictions with the High Court directives, and the rules framed by the Ministry of Forest and Environment.
Mohammad Ali Shahin, programme manager of non- governmental development organization YPSA and ship breaking expert said that as per international and local rules, pre-cleaning of all toxic substances of the ships must be assured before their transboundary movement to ship-breaking countries. The ships must also be inspected by a team of experts to check if there are any hazardous chemicals in them, before breaking. The ships can only be scrapped if the team gives a no objection certificate.
However, after a long time, the government has been taking steps to resist the environmental pollution caused by ship-breaking at yards in Sitakunda since the past several years.
For the first time since establishment of ship breaking yards in 1970, the DoE took action against the yards violating the rules of government and polluting the environment in Sitakunda area last year.
A mobile court of the Department of Environment fined several yards for polluting the environment at the time.
Sources said, the ship breaking industry, developed along the coastal areas of Sitakunda stretching from Fouzderhat to Barabkunda, is posing a serious threat to both the local and the sea environment.
During scrapping of old ships, different types of poisonous chemicals including oil used in the ships are spread in the yards. Spillover of these poisonous chemicals and oils into the sea near the coast also causes a serious threat to maintenance of a healthy environment.
It is reported that some dishonest scrap ship traders bring ships loaded with poisonous chemicals for breaking at the Sitakunda yards at low prices from international markets to scrap.
The environmental activists are strongly protesting the breaking of poison-loaded ships in the areas.
The ship breaking industry had started flourishing since 1980 with a huge involvement of man and money. There are around 87 such yards in Sitakunda which produce thousands of tonnes of scrap iron used by re-rolling mills.
However, serious concerns prevail over work safety as well as environmental standards maintained by the industry.
Nazimuddin Shyamol, Ctg