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A United Nations (UN) special rapporteur said that the health and safety situation in many shipbreaking yards in India still remains 'critical' and there is a need to improve training facilities and working conditions for labourers
The health and safety situation in many shipbreaking yards in India still remains 'critical' and there is a need to improve training facilities and working conditions for labourers, a United Nations (UN) special rapporteur (reporter) said on Thursday.
Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, the special rapporteur of the UN, also noted that only 3% of the 400,000 metric tonnes of e-waste generated in India is recycled in authorised facilities and recommended a national plan for safe management of electronic products.
The UN special rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, was addressing the media after wrapping up a 10-day visit to examine India's progress in disposal of hazardous wastes.
Prof Ibeanu, who visited shipbreaking yards in Alang in Gujarat and Mumbai and an e-waste recycling facility in Roorkee, acknowledged the 'significant progress' made by India, including in developing an 'impressive' regulatory framework for environmentally sound management of toxic products.
Pointing to the differing opinions on environmental impact of shipbreaking, he also favoured an independent study to assess the adverse effects that may be caused by the discharge of hazardous material into the natural environment.
While noting the 'consistent efforts' being made by authorities in Gujarat to reduce risks to workers, he said, "The health and safety situations prevailing in most of the shipbreaking yards I visited remain critical as witnessed by 12 fatal accidents that occurred in Alang during the course of last year."
The five-day training provided to workers in Alang is 'grossly inadequate' and the facilities should be improved, Pro Ibeanu said. "In Mumbai, workers do not receive any form of training, making them more prone to serious accidents and injuries," he said.
Identifying other "shortcomings", Prof Ibeanu said that medical facilities established on or just outside the yards in Alang and Mumbai do not possess sufficient human, technical and financial resources to provide any treatment other than first-aid for minor injuries.
"The Red Cross facility I visited in Alang is not equipped to deal with serious accidents, and can only count on four medical doctors to provide healthcare not only to some 30,000 workers in the yards, but also the neighbouring villages of Alang and Sosia," he said.
He said he was 'shocked' to see the conditions in which most workers live in Alang and Mumbai. "Semi-skilled and unskilled workers live in makeshift facilities lacking basic sanitation facilities, electricity and even safe drinking water," Prof Ibeanu said.
On e-waste, the UN expert said while the Indian government is making efforts to meet the challenge, the international community should come up with technology assistance.
Prof Ibeanu, who will submit a report to the UN Human Rights Council, said the dismantling of electronic equipment by small-scale informal laboratories can pose health risks and favoured a national implementation plan for proper management of electronic products, with special focus of integrating informal recyclers into the formal economy.
IIT-B will be working closely with its Industrial Research Consultancy Centre during the annual tech festival starting from Friday
A unique initiative to transfer technologies developed at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) to the industries, Techfest-2010, will be working closely with the institute's Industrial Research Consultancy Centre during the festival starting from Friday.
Techfest-2010 will include several activities including lectures by eminent scientists worldwide, exhibitions, and some other features like techno-entertainment 'Technoholix' and interactive installations from around the world, called 'scintillations'.
The exhibitions, which will be held at Powai (Mumbai), would include some of the best global exhibits including those from the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition-UK, ETH Zurich-Switzerland, Indian Navy, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) who would be giving demonstrations on some disaster management techniques.
"With over 25 exhibits from over 15 countries, exhibitions at Techfest will be bigger than ever," said Nikhil Kashid, one of the student organisers.
The biggest draw at Techfest for students this year will feature a multitude of competitions with international participants, ranging from the best in robotics to ones with social objectives like developing devices that run on renewable sources of energy.
Technoholix will showcase the best in techno-entertainment at the end of every day and will include a breathtaking performance by 'Mountain Bike stunt group-M.A.D' from UK, display of urban acrobatics and extreme martial arts by Nexus Europe and a unique fire and pyrotechnics display by dynamic fire troupe, Pa-li-Tchi from the Czech Republic.
Scintillations will be a brand new segment of Techfest 2010 and will consist of interactive installations from around the world. Scintillations will consist of The Sunlight Eiffel, FlickrGettr, Light Ripples and Discovery Dome.
Techfest will also have lectures by experts from Google, the Large Hadron collider and developers of Wi-Fi, Mr Kashid said.
The decision to merge national carriers Air India and Indian Airlines was taken in haste, without required consultation and homework, says the Parliamentary panel headed by Sitaram Yechury
A Parliamentary Committee on Thursday said that the decision to merge national carriers Air India and Indian Airlines was taken in haste, without required consultation and homework, reports PTI.
"As a result, the entire process has, in fact, been unduly delayed, if not derailed," the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has noted. The Committee looked into the merger of the two airlines and its impact on the domestic aviation industry.
"In the process, it has given rise to so many problems concerning financial, administrative and operational (issues), which could not be foreseen by the people who took this decision," the Committee said.
The Committee, headed by senior politician Sitaram Yechury, felt that these inherent contradictions of human resources and aircraft type existing within the National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL), the entity formed after the merger, have become a major stumbling block in achieving the required economies of scale and increased leverage.
While Air India has a Boeing-based fleet, Indian Airlines primarily has Airbus jets and the engineers and operating crew of the two carriers are not equipped to service both aircraft types.
Both Air India and Indian Airlines had drawn up their own aircraft acquisition plans before the decision on the merger was taken, further impeding the process, the Committee noted.