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Health Checks on Workers Dismantling Blue Lady in Gujarat

Health check-ups of workers dismantling Norwegian cruise liner "Blue Lady", carrying hazardous asbestos, is being carried out in Alang, a shipbreaking yard in Gujarat.

During a four-day medical camp, experts of the National Institute of Occupational Health will also impart training to the workers in cautious handling of toxic material and use of protective masks.

"Earlier, there were no such things but since the anchoring of Blue Lady there are some health scares. That's why we are getting a medical check-up," said Dharmendra Yadav, a worker.

The medical authorities conducted a general check-up of all the employees working at the shipbreaking yard.

"The atmosphere is considered hazardous for the workers. So a government sponsored team has come here to do a medical check up of the workers," said G.B. Makwana, a doctor with Alang medical hospital.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had allowed the ship to enter Indian waters, but put a hold on it's dismantling, pending a report by an expert panel on the quantum of toxic wastes on board.

Beaching was permitted after Indian experts had given the go ahead for the scrapping of the controversial cruise liner, which environmentalists say contains toxic material harmful to ship-breakers.

The team of 15-members, of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) and Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) gave clearance after the committee carried out a five-day inspection of the ship.

Greenpeace and other groups had raised concern and protested over the Blue Lady. According to them, 46,000-tonne cruise liner, which anchored in June off the Alang ship-breaking yard, contains more than 900 tonnes of asbestos which would put the health of workers at risk.

A recent Greenpeace report said that thousands of ship breakers in countries such as India, China and Pakistan had pro bably died in the past two decades from accidents or exposure to toxic waste.

In February last year, France recalled its decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau after an outcry over the asbestos it contained.

But the Gujarat Maritime Board, which leases out the yards in Alang, says they can handle toxic and hazardous waste.


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