Ship dismantling in the country fell by more than 71 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 mainly due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a global coalition.
Bangladesh brought 20 scrapped ships during the period between April and June in 2020, according to the data released by NGO Ship-breaking Platform (NSP).
Bangladesh imported a total of 70 ships during the same period of 2019.
NSP is a global coalition of organisations working to reverse the environmental harm and human rights abuses caused by current ship-breaking practices and to ensure the safe and environmentally-sound dismantling of end-of-life ships worldwide.
A total of 98 ships were broken in the second quarter of 2020. Of these, 60 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia where, despite the majority of yards being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, shipbreaking kept putting workers' lives at risk, the coalition said.
Citing local sources and media, it said at least three workers were severely injured in Bangladesh between April and June.
Besides, India became the top destination for scrapped ships in the world bringing the highest 32 vessels during the April-June period of 2020. India imported a total of 67 ships during the corresponding period of last year, according to NSP.
Turkey dismantled 18 ships, followed by Pakistan 8, China 4, European Union and other countries 16 each in the second quarter of 2020.
A total of 166 ships were broken in the first quarter of 2020. Of these, 126 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking.
During the first quarter, Bangladesh and India dismantled 54 and 63 ships respectively, the NSP data showed.
Citing local sources, the NSP in a statement said all shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh resumed their activities on June 01.
One-third of them never shut down despite the lockdown, exposing the workers to the risk of contracting the virus and spreading it to the vulnerable local communities, it added.
Having been deprived of accessing government support, which is offered only to local workers, migrant workers have been unable to return to their home villages due to the absence of public transport services, the statement said.
Forced to continue to pay rent for unsanitary and improper accommodations near shipbreaking yards, migrant workers, mainly from the northwest of Bangladesh, have been left to starve, it added.
Followed by unprecedented emergency situation NSP raised financial support. In partnership with its member organisation OSHE, the platform also distributed food and personal protective equipment items to 130 of most deprived shipbreaking workers' families in Sitakunda.