Irregularities alleged in the functioning of the Technical Committee on Blue Lady
Beaching of Blue Lady violates Court's order
NGO Platform on Shipbreaking - Press Release
3 August 2006 (New Delhi) –
High-level sources say that the inspection committee on Blue Lady was under intense pressure to give clearance to the vessel for beaching, as per the admissions by credible sources within Technical Committee on Ship-breaking. The source that spoke on condition of anonymity referred to intense pressure from within the committee and by the ship-breaker to gloss over facts relevant to environment and safety practices at Alang. The source admitted that Alang does not have the capacity to handle any of the toxic substances known to be present in Blue Lady.
Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is making a mockery of the environmental laws for illicit considerations. This was predicted even when the Technical Committee was formed because of its composition, which includes MoEF, Central Pollution Control Board and Gujarat Maritime Board who are respondents in the case.
Beaching permission, which has been granted to the toxic laden Blue Lady by the Technical Committee on Ship Breaking, is illegal on three counts. One, the Supreme Court allowed the entry of the ship in the Indian waters for anchoring on humanitarian grounds not for beaching with no equity on the owners. This permission was in pursuance of a submission made by Haryana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd. But the permission has been given to a new outfit called Priya Blue Shipping Pvt Ltd. This is in violation of the court order. The alleged new purchaser Priya admits in its website [priyablue.com/demo_intro.htm] "western countries have very high standards of safety which calls for costly measures for ensuring safety. Hence, ship-breaking industry has been diverted from western countries to India."
Secondly, even this permission has been by a Technical Committee whose term has expired on 31st July 2006. Thirdly, the committee was supposed to submit its report to the court. The court is yet to hear the legal arguments wherein the compliance of apex court's 14th October 2003 order was sought by an applicant.
Blue Lady is full of highly toxic substances such as asbestos, PCBs and heavy metals besides radioactive substances. Given the fact that Alang shipyard does not have the facility to deal with these hazardous wastes and substances it endangers the occupational and environmental health and safety of the casual and contract workers. The court is aware of the deficiencies in the facilities at Alang, which led to it forming this Committee on ship breaking. As long as the committee does not submit its final report and the recommendations therein are complied with any claims with regard to the possibility of safe handling of PCBs and asbestos is misplaced. With regard to PCBs, which is a neurotoxin although its presence on board the ship has been confirmed on physical observation sans any lab analysis the fact remains Alang does not even have a facility to test it let alone manage it safely. As per an international treaty called Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), to which India is a party, PCBs are listed as substances, which are to be phased out.
The questions which has remained unanswered both from the Supreme Court and the Technical Committee is whether this ship has complied with the October, 2003 order. It is now quite manifest that court's directions have been violated and the relevant rule of law with regard to hazardous waste has been flouted in the same way as was done in the case of Riky. The court is yet to pronounce its verdict on the illegality of that ship. If foreign ships such as Riky and Blue Lady are allowed to violate law with impunity what is the relevance of the court's spontaneous intervention and Hazardous Waste Rules, which prohibits import of asbestos waste. The asbestos epidemic across the globe has led to over 40 countries having banned this killer fiber and most recently on 14th June, International Labor Organization has called for its global ban. Turning a blind eye to such global developments exposes the callousness of the Ministry of Environment.
Even Basel Convention VII (26) explicitly states that ships for scrap are waste. Several courts around the world including Netherlands, Turkey, Belgium and Norway have opined that ships for scrap containing hazardous material and the ones, which are not decontaminated, are hazardous waste.
The dismantling of Blue Lady if it happens would mean dismantling of the much acclaimed landmark judgment of October, 2003 that provided the mechanism for demolition, which was passed after 10 years of hearing by the current Chief Justice of India.
For More Information
Gopal Krishana, Phone- + 91 98180 89660
Madumitta Dutta, Phone- + 91 94443 90240
Ramapati Kumar, Phone- + 91 98455 35414
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