Center urges Alang to emerge as a vehicle scrapping center

Apart from senior officials from the Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and representatives from the Gujarat Maritime Board and the Ship Recycling Industries Association (India), the January meeting was chaired by one of the Union Ministers.

At the meeting, it was also decided that a BIS team would visit Alang – the country’s largest shipbreaking center – to investigate the ground activities of ship recycling. “The team will discuss the issue and how to proceed with representatives from the Ship Recycling Industries Association and the Gujarat Maritime Board. Introduction of a standard operating procedure (SOP) for testing raw material for re-rolling mills,” says the minutes of the meeting.

Steel scrap from the wrecked ships is an important source of raw materials for the rolling mills in our country. Typically, at least 70 percent of a ship’s total light displacement tonnage is resealable scrap. These are then processed into rods and rods used in the construction sector. The other raw materials for the production of bars and rods are rerollable scrap from Railways, pencil ingots from induction furnaces, semi-finished products from the integrated plants and imported scrap offers.

The Ship Recycling Industries Association, in a filing earlier this year, referred to an “unworkable norm of quality control regulation and the BIS standard” affecting recyclers.

As a result of these revised standards, which came into effect in 2012, activity at Alang has been impacted. “We … are not able to sell our materials directly to Umroller,” it said, adding that 90 percent of the plots at the shipyard have received HKC compliance certification from internationally recognized agencies.

The HKC certification stands for Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.

Shipbreaking activity

According to data available from the Gujarat Maritime Board in Alang, the number of ships wrecked at the shipyards has fallen to one of the lowest since fiscal 2012.

Shipbreaking was one of the highest in fiscal 2012, with 415 ships arriving. However, activity has since declined. FY21, a Covid year, was one of the worst with just 187 ships breaking down. The numbers improved slightly in FY22, with 209 ships calling.

As of December 31 of this fiscal year, the scrapping activity at Alang was only 91.

In light displacement tonnage (calculated in millions of tons), the figures fell from 3.9 mt in FY12 to 1.5 mt in FY22. In FY23 (to December) it was 0.9 million tons.

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