July 26, 2011 / 7:55 AM / in 8 years

Bangladesh Supreme Court intervenes in ship recycling decision

A worker works on a broken part of a ship at a ship breaking yard in Chittagong August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh’s Supreme Court has recalled a lower court’s ruling last week that allowed ship breaking yards to continue operating through October, and will conduct its own review of the case on Thursday, a senior industry official said.

The lower court last week gave the $1.5 billion ship recycling industry an additional three months to meet tougher safety and environmental rules on importing old ships to dismantle for scrap.

“The Supreme Court has recalled the file from the High Court for review on July 28,” Captain Salah Uddin, an adviser of the Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association, told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The government hopes the decision of the High Court will be upheld by the Supreme Court.”

Rights activists have urged the court to reinstate a year-long ban on the industry, saying its activities remained too dangerous for workers and too costly for the environment. The ban was lifted in March.

The High Court lifted the ban after industry vowed to adopt strict rules to protect workers, such as an age limit of at least 18, training and proper safety gear, and cleansing of toxic material from ships prior to arrival.

Bangladesh, the top ship recycling nation from 2004 through 2008, hopes to bring in around 300 ships by the end of next year, up from 220 in 2009 before the ban, traders said.

Scrapped ships are the main source of steel for the impoverished nation, which requires around 4 million tonnes each year.

Reporting by Serajul Quadir; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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