Alang, where ships finally call to be broken up, may soon become the hub for scrapping old vehicles, too. The government is weighing a plan to dismantle and recycle end-of-life vehicles at this port town in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district.
An inter-ministerial panel exploring the possibility of junking vehicles at Alang, following a presentation made to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for drafting a scrapping policy, has finalised its report, multiple government officials said.
The government’s policy managers feel the plan would maximise Alang’s recycling potential and help use the cheap scrap steel extracted as an input for the manufacturing sector, the sources said.
The move comes as steelmakers such as Tata Steel and the Liberty Group are looking to enter the scrap recycling segment. Tata Steel has already set up a recycling plant in Rohtak, Haryana.
The Ship Recycling Industries Association (SRIA) has backed the plan as this can double the steel scrap output to 5 million light displacement tonnage (LDT) from the present 2 million LDT. Light displacement tonnage refers to the weight of a ship’s hull, machinery, equipment and spares and forms the basis on which ships are usually sold for scrap. The extra scrap will allow the steel re-rolling mills in Bhavnagar to run for 12-24 hours compared to the existing eight hours.
The association has made two suggestions to overcome the limitation of the small size of ship recycling plots. “Every plot holder should be allotted a backyard plot of 10,000 sq metres at nominal cost on a 99-year lease,” said an SRIA official. “If the backyard plot is allotted, we will set up shredders and other equipment for recycling of vehicles at our own cost,” he said.
Second, the association wants the recycling yards to be converted into an autonomous body under the National Authority for Recycling of Ships set up by the Shipping Ministry. This will solve the problem of multiple agencies operating at Alang which delays finalisation of issues relating to the industry, the SRIA official said.
An official at the Bureau of Indian Standards said that it would consult the Metallurgy Department for modification/reform of existing standards to enable re-rolling mills manufacture TOR steel — one of the best grades of steel used in concrete reinforcement — of more than 8-mm thickness.
The Central Pollution Control Board issued guidelines in April 2019 for environmentally sound management of collection, dismantling and shredding end-of-life vehicles.