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 Ship Recycling has a deep-rooted connection with South-Asia and in particular with Bangladesh. Soon after independence, with the rise of construction, the demand for steel and other necessary usable materials increased. Scrap steel which was readily available from the recycling of obsolete ships became a major source of construction and industrial development thus reducing the pressure of importing steel and embarking the foundation of the ship-breaking industry. 


How It Started

 Ship breaking in Bangladesh started back in 1960 when the Bay of Bengal was struck by a cyclone, which left a giant cargo ship beached near the sea shore of Fauzdarhat near Chittagong. The ship owners abandoned the wreck, and local metal workers slowly began to scrounge it for scrap metal and material. In 1974, a salvaged Pakistani navy vessel, which was sunk during the Bangladeshi liberation war, was scrapped by Karnafully Metal Works. These two incidences are considered to be the beginning of the ship breaking industry in Bangladesh.

The ship breaking industry gradually grew since then, and by the mid 80s Bangladesh had become one of the major ship breaking nations in the world. Some of the world’s largest decommissioned ships are today scraped at the shores located north of Chattogram (formerly Chittagong), which is the second largest city and major sea port in the country. (Since environmental policies and laws were not strictly monitored or enforced since the 1980's & 1990's, labor salaries were among the lowest in the world and there were no standards for occupational health and labor safety, hence there were plenty of opportunities to exploit people and the environment when moving forward with the ship breaking business.


The Ship Recycling Industry has provided livelihood at the doorsteps of a vast majority of people of densely populated countries like Bangladesh. Since the independence of Bangladesh, the starting journey of this country has not been smooth. People had to struggle for their basic needs. But the growth of many types of industries gradually placated the situation and now, it is has established itself as a developing country, flourishing through the industrial boom. At the onset of the 21st century, the Ship Recycling industry became an important economic factor since a huge number of ships were being dismantled across Chattogram.


     But, there are plenty of opportunities to manipulate people unfairly and harm the environment when moving forward with the ship breaking business. The practice of exploiting manpower is noticeable within the ship-breaking industries. Thus this sector gained attention from international legal and environmental regulatory bodies, NGOs, and the government of Bangladesh. Owing to poor labor safety, lack of adequate infrastructure and disruption of the environment, strict measures, and new policies became imperative to be adopted to revolutionize and change the overall scenario of this industry in terms of Occupational Health, Legal Issues, and Environmental Safety. 

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