Customs, CPCB agree ex Exxon Valdez Violated Supreme Court order, Basel Convention
End-of-life vessel is hazardous waste, argued Sanjay Parikh
Procedure for Prior Informed Consent and Prior Decontamination of ship in country of export, not complied with
New Delhi, July 23, 2012: The Supreme Court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar heard the arguments concerning the ex US ship Exxon Valdez which was allowed to be anchored by the Gujarat Pollution Control and Gujarat Maritime Board in violation of the order dated 3.5.2012 and the final order dated 6.7.2012 passed by the same bench wherein they directed that Basel Convention is required to be followed, in case of its breach action should be taken under the Municipal Laws. Mr. Sanjay Parikh appearing for the applicant Mr. Gopal Krishna made the following submissions:
1. The Basel Convention applies to the end of life ships destined for ship breaking. These ships are floating hazardous wastes.
2. The prior inform consent which applies in case of Transboundary movement also applies to ship breaking because it is Transboundary movement of the hazardous wastes embedded in the form of ship. According to prior inform consent, the country of export should give all the documents regarding the ship to the country of import and the ship should sail from the country of export only after it has been granted permission by the country of import.
3. The country of import has to look into all the documents sent by the country of export including the nature and quantity of hazardous wastes before granting any permission. In particular the country of import should satisfy that the hazardous wastes can be disposed of in environmentally sound manner.
4. The inventory of hazardous wastes with the permission granted by the country of export should be verified by the concerned authorities before granting permission of anchorage. The certified inventory must tally the document Indian Authorities (MoEF) has with it. The Basel Convention principle has been incorporated in Hazardous Wastes Rules regarding prior inform consent.
5. Not only Exxon Valdez as well as other ship enter in the Indian territorial water without prior inform consent. This violates the basic principle involved in Transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and compromises with environmental and safety safeguard. The absence of State obligation and duty in granting prior inform consent, will result in dumping of hazardous waste in India, a non OECD Country.
6. The CPCB, GMB, HPC, MoEF had all agreed that prior decontamination of the ship by the country of export is required. The 2003 order records prior decontamination of ship. This is based on the Basel convention principle of minimization of hazardous wastes by the country of export.
7. As far as Exxon Valdez is concerned, neither prior inform consent nor prior decontamination by the country of export was followed. Even cross checking of inventory of hazardous waste was not done. The affidavits filed by MoEF, Ministry of shipping and GMB showed that they only looked at the hazardous wastes lying in loose form on board. Today it is not known how much Asbestos Waste, PCB, PCT, Waste Oil, Heavy Metals etc. the said ship contains. The permission of anchoring is therefore, absolutely illegal and in violation of the directions passed by this Hon’ble Court.
8. A country like Bangladesh disallowed the entry of Blue Lady. The Bangladesh Supreme Court in its judgment given in 2009, directed that without prior de-contamination no ship be allowed for breaking in Bangladesh territorial waters. The Bangladesh Supreme Court had followed 2003 order of the Supreme Court and disagrees with the procedure laid down in the 2007 order. They clearly observed that the Supreme Court of India has compromised with environmental principle while passing 2007 order.
9. That in any case 2007 order of which clarification was sought by applicant Gopal Krishna resulted in order dated 6.7.2012 where the Supreme Court re-established that the Basel Convention is required to be followed in ship breaking.
During the course of argument it clearly came out that the ship Exxon Valdez neither followed prior inform consent procedure nor prior decontamination was done. Surprisingly all the authorities including MoEF, GMB, Ministry of Shipping, GPCB supported the ship breaker except Customs and CPCB which took the position that the courts orders have been violated. The Supreme Court bench reserved the case for judgment on next Monday i.e. 30th July, 2012. There was reference made to the involvement of Dawood Ibrahim gang in the ship breaking industry. Meanwhile, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has written to A C Buck, Director General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) drawing its attention towards involvement of terror elements in Alang ship-breaking business' and need for intelligence sharing on Alang operations needed, say officials. The letter is attached.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), 9818089660,
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