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How Alang Shipyard Works


Alang Controversy
Alang's workers tell Greenpeace to butt out and go home.
Alang's workers tell Greenpeace to butt out and go home.
Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

Many hot-button issues facing the global community today come together in Alang -- environmental concerns, human rights issues and questions regarding how to integrate the developing nations into the global economy in a sustainable and equitable way.

Critics argue that the Alang Shipyard represents the very worst of globalization -- developed nations sending garbage to developing nations. By sending potentially hazardous waste to countries without the means to manage it, developed nations take financial advantage of desperate laborers, according to critics.

­However, some businessmen from India argue that it's unfair when Westerners impose their own standards on Alang's industry. By the nature of its specific economic and social conditions, Alang simply can't maintain these standards. Relatively speaking, they say, conditions there aren't as bad as at other industrial sites in the country. And those Westerners who oppose shipbreaking in their communities would rather see this job done anywhere but in their own backyards [source: Knickerbocker].

Still others, such as workers in North America who have lost their jobs due to offshoring, prefer to bring shipbreaking back home [source: Gallob]. Some American businessmen are working to keep at least a portion of the ship recycling industry in the United States [source: Stewart].

­In addition to these globalization issues, environmental hazards at Alang have prompted uproar from some Western environmentalist groups. A major reason for sending ships to Alang is that American and European environmental standards were much higher, and by extension far more costly, than those of India. So, what is considered unsafe in the West is sent to India for disposal. Yet others -- even in the West -- would argue that isolating potentially toxic ship parts to one remote location serves the greater good [source: Knickerbocker].­

Alang's advocates, including workers themselves, argue that without the shipbreaking industry, nearly 40,000 people and their families would have no income.

With so many issues, there are lots of opinions about Alang and the shipbreaking industry. Find out how some governments and environmental advocacy groups have responded to Alang.