Environmental compliance is the key
by The Daily Star
19 March 2009 – We applaud the recent High Court directive to the government to immediately shutter operations of all the nation's 36 ship-breaking yards for operating without proper environmental clearance, and hope that the industry will at long last finally take corrective measures and bring itself into compliance with the law of the land.
This court order is long overdue. Simply put, the industry has been operating in blatant defiance of the most basic environmental regulations that are on the books. The court has done nothing more than order compliance with the existing law, and no one can have any complaint if laws are implemented as they should be.
The way the industry is run is highly dangerous and polluting one and one that is linked to all kinds of abuses. Nevertheless, mindful of the fact that the metal salvaged from ship-breaking is key to our own steel industry, and that ship-breaking provides foreign exchange and jobs, we want the industry to be saved from wrongful exploitation leading to its ruination.
If ship-breaking continues in Bangladesh it must be done under stringent conditions and with close regulatory oversight against abuse and environmental damage.
Many argue that we need to be even more vigilant and that the laws need to be even more stringent than they are today. But what is incontrovertible and unacceptable is that even the minimal existing environmental regulations have been contemptuously ignored by every single one of the 36 ship-breaking yards operating in the country.
Industries that provide profits and jobs at the expense of the environment ultimately do more harm than good. The decision to enforce the law to save ourselves from the toxic effects of non-compliance is a good one. Let us now hope that the court order is respected and that in future all environmental regulations in this industry are followed to the letter.
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