India Prepares to Ratify the Hong Kong Convention

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Published Dec 2, 2017 4:32 PM by The Maritime Executive

India has drafted legislation to implement the 2009 Hong Kong Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.

India's Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari announced the news at the 30th Assembly Session of the IMO in London last week. The Convention is yet to come into force and has only been ratified by Norway, Congo, France, Belgium, Panama and Denmark. It will enter into force when ratified by 15 states, representing 40 per cent of the world merchant shipping.

The importance of the announcement cannot be overstated, as India holds the key to the future of Hong Kong Convention, says Dr. Nikos Mikelis, Non-executive Director of cash buyer GMS. “The Convention’s third condition for entry into force requires the accession or ratification by countries that have recycling capacity that is proportionate to the tonnage of the fleets under the scope of the Convention. 

“The recycling capacities of China plus Turkey plus the rest of the world (but excluding the three South Asian countries) is currently only 69 percent of the capacity required under the third condition of Hong Kong Convention. On the other hand, the combined capacities of China plus any one out of the three South Asian ship recycling countries meet the requirement of the third condition.”

In India, the Ministry of Shipping has already introduced the Shipbreaking Code 2013, replicating the full requirements of Hong Kong Convention in its domestic legislation. Even earlier, Gujarat Maritime Board had organized the setting up of facilities for the disposal of hazardous waste materials and for the provision of training for all ship recycling workers. 

Since 2015, an increasing number of Indian yards have been upgrading their procedures, training and infrastructure to meet the standards of Hong Kong Convention, with the result that now half of the yards in Alang have obtained, or are in the process of obtaining Statements Of Compliance from classification societies, testifying that they meet the technical standards of Hong Kong Convention.

“As Bangladesh and Pakistan will need time to be in a position to replicate the work and improvements that have taken place in India, it follows that India is now in an ideal position to accede to Hong Kong Convention and in so doing bring forward the day the ship recycling industry will be regulated globally by a practical and workable international standard,” says Mikelis. “At the same time the decision of the Indian government to accede to the Convention will be seen internationally as a vote of confidence for the ability of the country’s ship recycling industry to sustain the improvements that are taking place.”