Beaching of 30 ships in Alang is violation of court order:NGO

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New Delhi, Jan 24 (UNI) Environment NGO Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) has expressed concern over the beaching of 30 ships loaded with asbestos in Alang which it said was in violation of the Supreme Court order.

The Supreme Court had directed that the notification issued by Gujarat Maritime Board(GMB) in 2001 on gas free for hot work, should be made mandatory and no ship should be given a beaching permission unless this certificate is shown.

''Any explosion irrespective of the possession of certification should be dealt with sternly and the licence of the plot-holder should be cancelled and the Explosives Inspector should be prosecuted accordingly for giving false certificate," it had said.

The beaching of these ships without the gas free for hot work is in violation of the court, BANI said.

It may be pointed out that the Ship Recycling Industries Association (SRIA) is seeking modification of the court's order that was based on the recommendations of the Technical Experts Committee on Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship-breaking to ensure that these ships, including Blue Lady, get dismantling permission.

''The fact of the matter is that there is no credible evidence in the court's record to suggest that any Indian buyer has purchased the ship. These ships form part of the blackest chapters of the maritime history and deserve to be investigated thoroughly,'' the NGO said.

It said the court has asked GMB to prepare a model ship-breaking yard, and to identify yards where asbestos is handled and provide personal protective equipment to the workers, but till date there was no progress in that regard.

BANI pointed out that the Supreme Court had also directed the Centre to form a new Committee consisting of Ministry of Environment and Forests, GPCB, GMB, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) that shall verify all the documents before ship was allowed for breaking, but it was unfortunate that this committee was yet to be formed.

Also, the court had held that the ship breaking operation could not be permitted to be continued without strictly adhering to all precautionary principles, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines and taking the requisite safeguards which have been dealt with extensively in the report of High Power Committee on Hazardous Wastes, which include the aspect of the working conditions of the workmen, the NGO said.

The Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) have failed to ensure compliance with the court order. This tantamounts to violation of the court's order since all ships have radioactive materials. The AERB is required to inspect all ships that come to Alang, it said.

UNI NAZ AKJ RS1332

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