Cabinet Committee on Security Should Intervene to Stop Dumping of Dead Ships at Alang Beach
Attempts by US and EU Ship owners to Dumps Their Dead Ships Should Be Resisted
New Delhi 19/5/2012: In a letter sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on May 18, 2012, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has sought its intervention to deal with the security Concerns from ongoing dumping of dead Ships at Alang Beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. The letter is attached.
TWA has cited specific documents like the report of the Directorate of Naval Intelligence, Union Ministry of Defence and the Minutes of the Supreme Court constituted Inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on Ship breaking during the period 2004-2012.
One of the minutes of the IMC meeting cited in the letter reads: “Security Concerns – Both the representative of the Coast Guard and the representative from Naval HQ raised concerns over the entry of ships carrying hazardous cargo to Alang for ship breaking and how no information is made available to them regarding the movement of ships to Alang.” The entry of dead ships in Indian waters with fake documents reveals that security gaps have not been addressed.
Another IMC minutes reads: “Security concerns 16. Representatives of Naval Headquarter pointed out that because of large floating population at Alang it has become a breeding ground for mafia and other anti national elements who are indulging in nefarious activities. He further pointed out that sometimes vessels moving to Alang for breaking do not carry sufficient fuel and may also be not sea worthy. This may cause serious accidents at sea if such vessels are drifting in areas closer to oil field development areas. He therefore requested that there should be strict enforcement of account ability of ships reporting at Alang and the port authorities must share information with intelligence agencies. Further Naval Headquarters should also be informed about war ships and ships with sensitive cargo coming to Alang for ship breaking.” The radioactive wastes laden dead ships and war ships are indeed a matter of huge security concern.
The minutes of the another IMC meeting reads: “… The Chairman directed that the Ministry of Shipping may organize a meeting on the matter with GMB, Naval HQ and Coast Guard HQ, Custom etc. immediately and ensure that gaps in the security frame-work issues are addressed immediately.” TWA has submitted that there is a need to examine whether gaps in the security frame-work issues have been addressed as recently as during 2011-12 when 415 dead ships were dumped at Alang beach.
It has drawn the attention of the CSS towards the attempts by authorities from USA and Europe to transfer their dead hazardous ships to India.
The TWA letter informed the CCS that while India is a party o UN’s Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, USA is a non-party. The latter appears to be testing the robustness of India’s regulatory regime by sending dead ships like Platinum II (ex SS Independence, MV Oceanic) that entered Indian waters on fake documents and is making efforts through corporate veils to dump the dead US vessel MV Oriental N (formerly Exxon Valdez, Oriental Nicety, Exxon Mediterranean, Sea River Mediterranean, S/R Mediterranean, Mediterranean, and Dong Fang Ocean) at Alang beach. This ship has worked in at least three areas of the world since it ran aground on Bligh Reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound in March 1989. The 30,000-ton tanker ruptured eight of its 11 oil-storage tanks and spilled nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil into the ecologically rich area. Exxon Mobil spent $30 million to repair the single-hulled ship and moved it to its Mediterranean routes after the US banned the ship from Alaskan waters and a law was passed requiring double hulls on oil tankers. On the application of convener, TWA, the Supreme Court passed an order on May 3, 2012 seeking compliance with Basel Convention.
TWA has argued that if a bad precedent is set by allowing this dead US ship, Indian waters will be flooded with hundreds of dead ships both of military and military origin in the aftermath of the lifting of moratorium on transfer of toxic ships to developing countries by US Government.
The letter has been sent to through Cabinet Secretary with copies to members of Cabinet Committee on Security, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism & Culture, Chairman, National Advisory Council, Secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Secretary, Union Ministry of Finance, Secretary, Union Ministry of External Affairs, Secretary, Union Ministry of Defence, Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests, Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping, Secretary, Union Ministry of Steel, Secretary, Union Ministry of Law & Justice, Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry and Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat.
In order to take preventive steps in view of the security concerns expressed in the official documents, TWA demands that all dead ships should get mandatory clearance from Union Ministry of Defence.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Convener, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), New Delhi, Mb:-08002263335, 09818089660
Phone: +91-11-26517814, Fax: +91-11-26517814, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org Web: toxicswatch.blogspot.com