The letter dated 15 April, 2005 authored by Ms Connie Hedegaard, the then Denmark's environment minister to her Indian counterpart Shri A Raja about the illegal movement of a 51 year-old asbestos laden ship, Kong Fredrick IX underlines it. Ms Hedegaard is currently the European Commissioner for Climate Action. European Commission’s complicity in allowing the movement of the end-of-life toxic Danish ship MV Clipper (IMO No. 9232319) from the European waters into Indian waters is quite stark.
The union environment minister responded in writing on December 23 in response to letters dated December 22 and December 16, 2014 from ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) addressed to him besides Ministries of Shipping and Steel.
The letter raised the issue of verification of authenticity of documents of Danish end-of-life toxic ship MV Clipper (IMO No. 9232319) in Bhavnagar waters & compliance with Ship Breaking Code, Supreme Court’s order and Basel Convention given the fact that the phenomena of fake documents is rampant in Alang in particular and shipping industry in general.
TWA has reliably learnt that Customs officials boarded the ship from on December 23 and it was expected to be boarded by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Gujarat Pollution Control Board and other concerned officials. The Port Officer is likely to get all the relevant paper by tomorrow for scrutiny.
After TWA’s complaint standing monitoring committee on ship breaking yards, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests and officials of Hazardous Substances Management Division undertook a site visit and submitted a report requesting Directorate General of Shipping, Union Ministry of Shipping to develop procedure for scrutiny of ship's certificates.
The letter was responded to by D Mehrotra, Deputy Surveyor cum Senior DDG (Tech.), DG Shipping by letter [No.ENG/CCI-24 (1))/2002] dated June 28, 2011 written to Secretary, MoEF. Following which an Office Memorandum [No.29-3/2009-HSMD], MoEF dated August 29, 2011 seeking strict compliance with the procedure to combat the menace of fake documents in the ship breaking industry. This is required as per the recommendations of the Supreme Court's order.
The official procedure is as under:
2. The Principal Officer of the said Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) will verify the authenticity through Equasis website and other available resources and inform GMB with reference to authenticity of certificates.
A copy of the procedure was sent to Principal Officer of the said Mercantile Marine Department (MMD), Kandla.
In a notification [F.No. SR-12020/2/2011-MG] issued in the Gazette of India dated April 20, 2012, it is stated, “The Indian Coastguard and Indian Navy may also check and verify the protection and indemnity insurance and the name of Classification Society of the vessel, if considered necessary. If the vessel is not in possession of a valid protection and indemnity insurance and certificate of class, the matter shall be reported to the Directorate General of Shipping immediately, for appropriate action under the Act.”
Besides this as per an official communication Directorate General of Shipping, Ministry of Shipping [No.-NT (2)/Correspondent/12] dated 06/08/2013 on the subject of Non-IACS Classed old ships proceeding to ship breaking yard stated, “the concerned Coastal State/Ports has the responsibility to protect its coastline against shipping casualties which may/may not cause pollution…”. IACS stands for Indian Association of Classification Societies.
It further provided following safeguards required to be taken prior to the entry of such ship into their ports, or transiting through such ports or ship-breaking yards as the case may be, for the purpose of ship breaking:
The permission for beaching if it is granted would be in violation of Supreme Court’s order, Shipbreaking Code 2013 and Basel Convention. The real owner of this dead and obsolete ship is Christian Stadil who preaches a good deal about ethics in business but is apparently involved in unethical act of increasing the toxic burden on Alang’s ecosystem, migrant workers of the Gujarat’s shipbreaking industry and adjoining village communities.
The ship breaking activities are linked to issues of maritime and national security as has been recorded repeatedly in the minutes of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Ship breaking.
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has been working on the issue of hazardous wastes and ship breaking for over decade. It is an applicant before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment & Forests, Parliamentary Petitions Committee, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and relevant UN agencies besides Inter-Ministerial Committee on Ship breaking. It was the applicant before the Supreme Court wherein the order for creation of the Shipbreaking Code was passed. It had appeared before the Supreme Court’s Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes, Court’s Technical Experts Committee on Hazardous Wastes related to Ship breaking and pursued cases involving famous ships like RIKY (Kong Frederik IX), Le Clemenceau, SS Blue Lady, Platinum II and Exxon Valdez and others.
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