Toxic Trade News / 16 February 2006
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Clemenceau victory exposes rot in Indian system
by (UK)
16 February 2006 (New Delhi) – Indian trade unions, Corporate Accountability Desk-The Other Media, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) today celebrated the recall of the French ship Clemenceau by the French Supreme Court.

This was a success for people, and for the cyber-coalition of activists and organisations, including All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Basel Action Network and Ban Asbestos France, Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), Corporate Accountability Desk that worked around the world sharing information and coordinating activities to defeat the French Government's plans.

While commending the French Court for upholding justice, the Indian organisations came down heavily on the Ministry of Environment & Forests and the Indian Government for blatantly arguing for the violation of international and national laws by accepting the toxic-laden ship from France.

They expressed concern at the Indian Supreme Court's reaction to ban all demonstrations, protests and expressions of opinion on the matter, and said that "Left to themselves, the Indian Government would have neither sought nor obtained a shred of information about the ship or its toxic contents. The Indian authorities and the legal system failed to reach a decision despite the fact that the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee was seized of the matter since November 2004."

The people's groups involved in the Clemenceau struggle have demanded the resignation of Minister of Environment & Forests Mr. A. Raja, and a full enquiry into the role of bureaucrats of MoEF, CPCB and other members of the SCMC. The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee should explain why it allowed Danish toxic ship-for-scrap Riky to be broken in India without demanding the information it is legally required to submit.

"This should set a strong precedent that no ship-for-scrap can be allowed into India unless decontaminated prior to arrival. Indian must participate actively in international negotiations to ensure that a global regime is in place to prevent toxic ships-for-scrap from being sent to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan or other industrialising countries," said H Mahadevan, Deputy General Secretary of AITUC and World Federation of Trade Unions. "We had announced that we will protest during French president's forthcoming visit to India if France insists on sending its toxic ship to India," added Mahadevan.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh on 14th January, the national Trade Unions had urged his intervention in the matter.

Mr. M.K. Pandhe, President of CITU said "workers should be protected from any residual toxics that remain in the ship even after prior decontamination is done. We want safe work and livelihood for the workers". CITU had issued a statement on 14th February expressing concern over the recent directive of the Supreme Court to ban demonstration and rallies on the issue.

"The Indian authorities failed miserably, and the behaviour of the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Central Pollution Control Board and the others who called for the import of the ship is openly malafide. A full-blown enquiry must be launched and action should be taken against errant bureaucrats and politicians," Madhumita Dutta of New Delhi-based Corporate Accountability Desk -The Other Media.

The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, which was pulled up for its inconsistent and inconclusive role in the matter, is under serious fire not just in the Clemenceau case.

"The fight for the world-wide asbestos ban continues. The Clemenceau victory is an important step of this fight which succeeded to involve a very wide network of NGOs representing the civil society in several countries to impose the respect of the international rules on the toxic waste exportation ban," said Gopal Krishna of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI), reacting to the ship’s recall.

Activists and community residents from other parts of India, including survivors of the Bhopal disaster, say that the Committee is anti-people and has failed to report to the apex court serious violations of due process and the Supreme Court order of October 14, 2003. Bhopal organisations have demanded the withdrawal of the SCMC from Bhopal, where they are supposedly monitoring the containment and remediation of toxic wastes from in and around Union Carbide factory site.


For more information, contact:

H Mahadevan, AITUC: 9818120885
MK Pandhe, CITU: 9811103226
Gopal Krishna, BANI: 9818089660
Madhumita Dutta, Corporate Accountability Desk, The Other Media:
26105472(o)/25261056 (r)

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