India’s Gujarat Maritime Board is to reassess the ‘standard operating procedure’ that permits foreign operators to use the well-known Alang shipbreaking facility.
Government officials argue that the review of India’s shipbreaking sector is necessary following evidence from a consortium of security and intelligence agencies regarding crime, particularly the trade in illegal substances.
This summer, the Indian Coast Guard intercepted a ship supposedly en-route to the Alang shipbreaking yard and seized 1.5 tonnes of heroin. The drugs were hidden in the old ship’s diesel tanks and pipes. Two people were arrested, and a long investigation followed. Intelligence sources believe the duo were involved with a Pakistan-based terrorist group. Another high-profile drug trafficking scheme was stopped in July 2017.
Indian government officials now believe that police clearance for ships coming into the Alang yard should be mandatory. ‘We will soon be announcing the minimum days that are required for prior intimation from a ship owner to enter the shipbreaking yard,’ says Mukesh Sharma, ceo of the Gujarat Maritime Board.
‘Although our role comes only after customs and environmental clearances and only within five nautical miles of the yard, the standard operating procedure will be reviewed based on data collected by various agencies,’ he added.