Shipbreakers (2004), a documentary film directed by Michael Kot, explores the practice of shipbreaking decommissioned vessels along the beaches of Alang, India.
Since the early 1980s, the rusting hulks of thousands of the world’s largest ships have been driven up onto the remote beaches of Alang. Here, up to 40,000 migrant workers attack the ships with hammers and blowtorches until all the usable material has been stripped away to be sold or recycled.
Shipbreakers contrasts the haunting beauty of the ships with the deplorable conditions experienced by the workers. In many cases, the UN Basel Convention, that aims to protect developing countries from dumping of toxic wastes, is ignored, and workers are regularly exposed to asbestos, heavy metals and other toxic substances.
The film aims to raise awareness of the practices taking place in Alang. It calls for change, pointing to the responsibility of stakeholders across the shipbreaking industry in improving standards for both human rights and environmental protection along South Asia’s beaches.
Image credit: Adam Cohn / flickr