Toxic Trade News / 17 September 2007
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Blue Lady's fate uncertain as activists to challenge SC
by The Economic Times (India)
17 September 2007 – The woes of Norwegian cruise line 'Blue Lady', formerly known as 'SS Norway', are far from over. After supreme court last week cleared dismantling of the ship at Alang shipbreaking yard, green activists are in no mood to relent.

Gopal Krishna, head of an NGO — Indian Platform on Shipbreaking (IPS), said they have decided to file a revision petition at the apex court. He claimed that the second order by the court on September 11 has violated its own order on September 6, when the court came up with a strict order on all hazardous ships coming to India for demolition.

The apex court had last week allowed the dismantling of the junk vessel, observing that the process had become ‘irreversible’ after its “illegal” beaching at Alang. Terming the dismantling as a ‘fate accompli,’ the court however asked the government and other concerned authorities to take appropriate precautionary measures before going ahead with demolition of the vessel.

“After the EU’s correct legal judgement to have the Clemenceau returned in com-pliance with the international Basel Convention, the industry and their cronies in government were desperate to show that India’s gasping and internationally condemned shipbreaking industry is still alive and kicking. The Blue Lady was illegally beached to achieve this objective and will now be illegally broken,” said Mr Krishna.

Blue Lady, which was beached in August, 2006, was bogged down by controversy for over a year, with several organisations including Greenpeace opposing its demolition in India due to the toxic materials onboard. The ship was alleged to have carried around 5,500 smoke detectors that contained radioactive material.

The supreme court had earlier banned entry of contaminated ships to its shores on September 6, giving a final jolt to Alang-Sosiya ship demolition yards. The court has also asked the government to formulate a comprehensive ship-breaking policy.

A senior ship-breaker said the industry is dying as the government failed to offer any incentives. In 2007 so far, only 50 small-sized ships came to Alang for demolition, as against over 300-350 ships in previous years.

The green activists maintain that India has shown “disregard for international law and even its own laws”. “While India may get to break a few more ships, legitimate ship-owners will steer clear of our shores as we will be seen as too willing to likewise break laws and operate at the bottom of the global waste management barrel,” says Mr Krishna.

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