Alang workers flayed

at last, after innumerable accidents and deaths of workers in the Alang ship-breaking yard in Gujarat, chief minister Keshubhai Patel has pulled up maritime officials for maintaining poor working conditions and negligence in the yards.

Admitting that the deaths were "black spots' on Gujarat's progressive image, Patel lauded efforts to build rather than break ships in the Alang yards. He also dedicated to the state three vessels that were constructed in the Alang ship-breaking yard.

The chief minister, however, offered no scheme to improve the lot of the exploited ship-breakers at Alang. Surprisingly, there was also no visible reaction among the maritime officials and ship breakers to Patel's reprimand.

The Gujarat Maritime Board has been asserting that proper working, living and hygienic conditions at the yards is not always the responsibilities of the government agencies alone. Blame has also been levelled at the deceased workers for entering particularly toxic zones of the ships without prior permission.