Toxic Trade News / 7 January 2006
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French aircraft carrier 'Clemenceau' not welcome: SC panel
by The Economic Times (India)
7 January 2006 (Mumbai) – The decommissioned French Aircraft carrier ‘Clemenceau’ on way to Gujarat carrying hazardous wastes was not welcome to enter Indian waters, the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on hazardous waste management said here today.

“India would be a party to violation of Basel Convention on Movement of hazardous wastes if it allows the ship anywhere near the country’s exclusive economic zone,” SCMC chairman G Thyagarajan told reporters. “In the light of additional information from media and other sources, there is not a happy picture to welcome the ship in India because ship of that size and displacement would destroy soil,” he said.

Mr Thyagarajan said the estimate of asbestos on board the aircraft carrier vary from 50 to 500 tonnes and the information on the ship was incomplete and unhelpful. “People have not been transparent in disclosure of information. It is not desirable to let the ship enter India’s waters,” he said.

“The country which has sent the ship to India is not observing the Basel Convention on movement of hazardous waste,” he said. “We are told that the ship has been purchased for Rs 40 crore. Why spend Rs 40 crore to buy foreign debris and waste our valuable foreign exchange to bury another country’s junk,” he wondered.

“We need authentic information on guarantee, which should not be less than the price of the ship. Till then, the ship should not come anywhere near Indian waters,” Mr Thyagarajan said.

“Any person or any country wishing to supply information regarding the ship and asbestos on board should do so within 15 days to the committee after which it would submit its recommendations to the Supreme Court,” he said.

Mr Thyagarajan said, “A lot more correct information should reach us.” He made it clear that the committee had not received directions from anybody. “We are taking this step on the basis of mandate from the Supreme Court.” He said India should declare no-import/export policy on hazardous wastes by June five this year which is the environment day.

Asked about willingness of Alang ship breaking yard authorities to allow the ship into yard, Thyagarajan said, “If a ship with hundred thousand cobras comes to India, will you accept it just because Indians are good at catching snakes?”

He also had a word of advice for the government. He said it should consider whether it was at all necessary for India to get into ship breaking activity. “Why not transform the Alang ship breaking yard into a ship building yard?” he suggested.

Before meeting of SC committee, at suburban Malad today, two representatives of Technopure, company which has been assigned the task of scraping the ship, made a presentation before the committee members on the various aspects of the French ship, including quantity of asbestos on board.

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