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Imminent arrival of end-of-life German ship Northern Vitality towards Indian waters in violation of SC Order

Written By Krishna on Saturday, September 08, 2012 | 2:48 AM


Shri A. P. Singh
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
New Delhi

September 7, 2012

Subject-Imminent arrival of end-of-life German ship Northern Vitality towards Indian waters in violation of SC Order


This is to inform you that in violation of the Supreme Court order dated July 30, 2012, Northern Vitality, a 15-year-old ship owned by German company “Norddeutsche Vermögen Holding GmbH & Co” and chartered by Swiss company MSC is headed for the shipbreaking beach of Alang, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. I am copying this message to Mr Michael Steiner, German Ambassador to India besides other concerned authorities.

I have learnt that in the ongoing saga of Alang's existence as a graveyard of ships and migrant workers last month four workers died in Alang beach. These workers are from Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, Odisha who are treated as second rate citizens in Gujarat no social protection.

I submit that Indian authorities must be alerted to step in to halt the illegal export of the German ship in question. This step by the German ship owners appears to be in tandem with the proposed amendment in the European Waste Shipment Regulation to legitimize admittedly illegal trade.

I have learnt that “Northern Vitality” was sold towards the fag end of August 2012 by its German owner to the US based cash buyer Global Marketing System (GMS) which owned by a person of Indian origin. It has come to light that the dead ship 'Northern Dignity' is currently located in Singapore, and its sister ship “Northern Felicity” is anchored in Dubai.

It is apprehended that due to ongoing economic and financial crisis in Europe numerous ships are going to be sent for breaking to India's Alang beach.

I submit that on 30 July 2012, Supreme Court made it clear that the “Exxon Valdez”, a ship famous for the oil pollution it caused in Alaska in 1989, and which was sold for demolition in May 2012, would be the last toxic ship to be allowed into Indian waters. The Supreme Court has directed the government to ensure a clean and pollution free marine environment on Alang beach and ensure prior decontamination of obsolete ships in the country of export prior to entering Indian waters for dismantling purposes.
I submit that in Supreme Court has held that "At the international Level, India should participate...with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of their hazardous substances such as asbestos, waste oil, gas and PCBs prior to exports to India for breaking."

I submit that there are hazardous materials, such as asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), used in the ship's construction. Workers condition on the Alang beach is one of the worst. They are under extremely dangerous and polluting conditions where workers labor on tidal sands to cut ships up by hand, exposing themselves to the risks of toxic chemicals, fires, explosions and falling steel plates. Pollutants are allowed to flow unimpeded into the marine environment.

I submit that the court’s actions are consistent with multilateral decisions made in October 2011, when 178 parties to the Basel Convention met in Cartagena, Colombia to not only re-endorse the Basel Ban Amendment forbidding the export of hazardous wastes from rich to poorer countries, but also resolve that the Basel Convention must continue to prohibit the dumping of end-of-life vessels on developing countries.

I submit that India's maritime security is under threat from hazardous waste trade mafia.

I submit that those officials of Ministry of Shipping, GPCB and GMB appear to be hand in glove with hazardous waste traders. Their role must be probed.

I submit that a letter to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism & Culture informing it about a letter of Shri Rajgopal Sharma, Advisor, Indian Embassy, Brussels dated December 20, 2011 wherein it has been revealed that most of the dead and hazardous ships that are currently at Alang beach are in illegal traffic. The letter was based on Shri Sharma’s conversation with Shri Julio Garcia Burgues, Head of the Waste Management Unit, European Commission – DG Environment. This reveals that even EU is trying to transfer its dead ships to India.

I submit that I have written to Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Subordinate Legislation to ensure that legal loopholes are not exploited by the hazardous waste traders like GMS.

I take the opportunity to also place on record that the 7th Annual Ship Recycling Conference held during 19 - 20 June 2012 in London and the Joint Seminar held in Mumbai on June 14, 2012 are attempts by European ship owners in particular to mutilate Basel Convention and facilitate free trade in hazardous wastes like end-of-life vessels through proposed International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Honkong Convention and amendments in the EU Waste Shipment Regulation. Under the Basel Convention end-of-life vessels are considered hazardous wastes and is sensitive to adverse impact of hazardous waste generating global shipping industry on coastal environmental health but the proposed IMO and EU legislations puts profit above gnawing environmental and occupational health concerns. The fact is these are fit cases of corporate crimes.

I submit that ship owning countries are attempting to green wash their sinful act of transferring harm to vulnerable countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan disregarding the fact that safe and environmentally responsible vessel dismantling cannot be achieved on a tidal beach as is currently being done amidst deafening and complicit silence of most of the environmental groups of the developed countries.

I submit that Supreme Court's Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes has recommended CBI probe to get to the bottom of the goings on in the hazardous wastes trade.

It is sad but it appears that Alang, Bhavnagar has seceded from India because rule of Indian laws does not seem to regulate the state of affairs their. It has earned notorious reputation of being a fake document factory.

Therefore, CBI and other concerned agencies ought to coordinate their efforts to demonstrate sensitivity towards Indian environmental borders which is routinely being compromised and India's fragile coastal environment of Alang beach is not polluted in future.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
New Delhi
PIN. 110016
Phone: +91-11-26517814, Fax: +91-11-26517814
Mb: 08002263335, 09818089660
Web: toxicswatch.blogspot.com

Mr Michael Steiner, German Ambassador to India
Shri Anand Sharma, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry
Shri G K Vasan, Union Minister of Shipping
Shri A K Antony, Union Defence Minister
Shri Beni Prasad Verma, Union Minister of Steel
Smt Jayanthi Natrajan, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Shri Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Chairman & Members, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment & Forests
Shri A K Seth, Cabinet Secretary, Government of India
Shri R K Singh, Secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs
Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping
Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests
Secretary, Union Ministry of Defence
Secretary, Union Ministry of Steel
Smt. Vijay Laxmi Joshi, Additional Secretary , Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Ms Meera Mehrishi, Additional Secretary, HSMD, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Shri Madhusudan Prasad, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Shri Rajeev Kher, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Ms Anita Agnihotri, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Shri Mukesh Bhatnagar, Additional DGFT, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Dr. Satish B. Agnihotri Director General of Shipping & Ex. Officio Additional Secretary to the Govt. of India
Chairman, Inter Ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking, Union Ministry of Steel
Shri S.S. Bajaj, Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Mumbai
Ms Aditi Das Rout, Director, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Dr. Saroj, Director, HSMD, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Dr. Manoranjan Hota, Director, HSMD, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Dr Claude Alvares, Member, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes
Dr D B Boralkar, Member, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes
Shri Sanjay Parikh, Lawyer, Supreme Court
Miss Sunita Naraian, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment
Member Secretary, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB)
Chairman, GPCB
Chairman, Gujarat Maritime Board
Shri S K Sharma, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
Shri L S Singh, Union Ministry of Steel
ACB, Gandhinagar, CBI
Office of Commissioner, Customs, Ahmedabad

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