Ship-breakers and recyclers on Wednesday urged the government to re-categorise the ship recycling industry (SRI) as ‘orange’ from the current ‘red’ classification.

The traders are incurring huge losses due to such categorisation as they need two more months to get required environmental clearances, according to them.

Yard owners have to lose Tk 320.92 million for a delay in obtaining an environmental clearance from the Department of Environment (DoE), said Mohammed Anam Chowdhury, adviser of Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association (BSBRA).

The Environment Conservation Rules 2023 has classified SRI as red and they need to get environmental clearance from director general of DoE Dhaka office before cutting scrapped ships, he explained.

Mr Chowdhury said this while presenting a keynote at a workshop on the “environmental management of ship breaking industry” hosted by the DoE at its Agargaon office on Wednesday.

Environment, forest and climate change minister Md Shahab Uddin was present as the chief guest at the programme with DoE director general Dr Abdul Hamid in the chair.

Industries secretary Zakia Sultana and environment, forest and climate change secretary Dr Farhina Ahmed spoke as special guests.

Talking to the FE after the meeting, BSBRA president Abu Taher said Chattogram DoE office cannot issue the certificate and they have to come to Dhaka office.

They need an additional one to two months only to meet the procedures.

Four recycling yards have obtained green certification while dozens are in the pipeline, he said.

While the industry is moving forward to meet Hong Kong Convention and environmentally compliant, putting the industry in red category has been pushing it back.

Both the BSBRA leaders demanded re-catagorising the SRI as orange and allowing Chattogram DoE office to provide the clearance certificate.

According to Environmental Conservation Rules 2023, ship-breaking yard and ship-breaking belong to red category-risky for environment.

So, the yards need two stage clearances.

Ministry of environment (MoE) classified SRI as ‘orange-B’ category in 1997, which re-classified as ‘red’ category in 2007.

Later in 2020, MoE again classified SRI in orange-B while in 2023 reclassified in red category, according to the keynote papers presented at the workshop.

Masud Iqbal Md Shameem director of DoE also made a presentation on ‘Environmental Management of Ship Recycling in Bangladesh’.

Speaking there, the minister said the government is implementing various initiatives to make the ship breaking industry safe and environment friendly.

Explaining the measures Bangladesh taken in this regard, he said although the ship breaking industry has made a significant contribution to the economy of Bangladesh, all have to work to ensure its environmental protection.

He stressed ensuring health safety of the workers and added that they should provide technical support.

“It is important to explore how to advance this growing industry by identifying and eliminating environmental hazards. All stakeholders must work together to ensure sustainable and environmentally friendly economic development,” he noted.

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