Clemenceau arrival sparks protests
by Yudhajit Shankar Das, The Statesman
3 January 2006 (New Delhi)– Environmental activists protested in front of the French embassy today as the countdown for the decommissioned French aircraft carrier, Clemenceau, due to reach India within two months, began.
Clemenceau, that is destined to be disemboweled in the ship breaking yard of Alang in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat, is nothing but a toxic behemoth that would yield around 500 tons of asbestos.
“Asbestos is extremely carcinogenic that causes mesothelioma, and its after-affects are seen in people only after about twenty years,” said the director of Toxics Link, Mr Ravi Agarwal. “After the tobacco industry, the asbestos industry pays the highest compensation on health grounds.”
The ship breaking yard in Alang has no equipment for dismantling ships. Around 25,000 to 40,000 migrant workers break the toxic substances with crude tools, coming into close physical contact with the carcinogenic substances, for months on end.
Greenpeace said the demonstration near the French embassy was to draw attention towards the violation of international law by France. France is a signatory to the Basel Convention that restricts the shipping of toxic substances, particularly from developed nations to developing countries.
“France has behaved shamefully as far as the Clemenceau is concerned. They have lied about the amount of hazardous material on board, tried to hide behind confidentiality clauses and deliberately misrepresented facts,” said Toxics campaigner, Greenpeace India, Mr Rampati Kumar. He added that France has flouted international laws and disregarded the welfare of Indian workers involved in the job.
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