Toxic ship's entry into India barred
by Times of India (India)
14 May 2006 (Ahmedabad) –
In what may come as a temporary respite for environmentalists protesting dismantling of large ships with toxic waste on Indian shores, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has on Sunday decided to bar French cruise liner, S S Norway, from entering Indian waters.
This comes as a fallout of the Supreme Court's directive on Thursday, that the ship's entry into Alang ship-breaking yard and issues relating to hazardous toxic wastes, be dealt with by a court-appointed committee of technical experts.
GPCB member secretary, Sanjiv Tyagi said, "Following directions from the Union government, we have issued notices to all authorities concerned to stop the ship from entering the Indian sovereign jurisdiction, until the committee decides on the matter."
French ship Clemenceau, was caught in a similar controversy over its high levels of toxicity in February this year, because of which it was recalled by the French government.
SS Norway is believed to be carrying three times the toxic wastes of Clemenceau. Popularly known as 'Blue Lady', SS Norway, had recently come under the apex court's radar, following an application moved by environmentalist Gopal Krishna.
The application had sought for directions to stop the ship from entering India's territorial waters. In response to this, a Bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Markanday Katju, had issued notices to the Centre and Gujarat Maritime Board.
The court had also referred the application to a committee of technical experts.
Environmentalists claim that the cruise liner is one of the top 50 toxic ships in the world and carries nearly 900 tonnes of asbestos, along with other globally-banned toxic materials and a cancer causing chemical, 'polychlorinate biphenyis'.
Amid this temporary ban on the ship's entry into Indian waters, activists concede the government needs to develop strong policies in the matter.
National president of Delhi-based, Citizen Forum on Human Rights (CFHR), S K Bhattacharjee alleges that the Indian government is yet to wake up to the issue of safe ship breaking.
Bhattacharjee who was on a visit to Alang recently said, "Even before the Clemenceau controversy could have faded out of public memory, there is a new one. This will keep repeating until the government takes an initiative on the issue."
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