In 2004, 10 workers were killed in a steel factory outside Delhi when the scrap metal they were melting down in the furnace caused a blast. The consignment was later thought to have included war scrap from Iran.
This led to the government considering a complete ban on the use of scrap metals from war zones in this trade, but four years on, the law is yet to be implemented. In June this year, two boys were injured in an industrial estate in Tamil Nadu when they were handling old cartridges while looking for metal in a scrap pile. The authorities seized the bags of ammunition
The scrap prices for iron and steel have doubled in less than a year, as rising world metals prices stoke demand for scrap. That is proving to be big business for Indian companies who specialise in melting down everything from used cars to unused missiles. A substantial amount of the scrap comes from war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
War scrap is cheaper because most developed countries have banned imports from war zones while others have stringent rules for import . Currently, Indian government rules state that any non-shredded scrap metal imported from a war zone has to have a pre-shipment certificate of inspection. But critics say that these regulations can easily be flouted by unscrupulous traders who ship the consignments to other countries and then re-ship them to India.
This changes the port of origin and the consignment is not checked as thoroughly as it should be.