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Greenpeace finds toxins in Mumbai ship-breaking yard
Salil Kumar in Mumbai | December 13, 2003 01:20 IST
Last Updated: December 13, 2003 01:22 IST
Environment watchdog Greenpeace on Friday came down heavily on the ship-breaking industry while releasing its 'Toxic Patrol Reports' of Mumbai and Alang ship-breaking yards.
At its campaign ship Rainbow Warrior it also released findings of its analysis of soil and sediment samples taken from the Mumbai ship-breaking yard.
Campaigner Martin Besiuex said the findings showed that levels of 'tributylin', an aggressive biocode that kills living organisms, have 'increased alarmingly' in sediment samples collected at Mumbai's ship-breaking yard.
"Levels have gone up from 2,000 nanograms in 1998 to over 7,000 nanograms last year," he said
The watchdog called for cleaning up of the Mumbai ship-breaking yard and for international regulation that obliges ship owners to decontaminate their ships before sending them to ship-breaking countries.
Besiuex showed a compilation and said none of the end-of-life vessels found on the beaches of Mumbai and Alang carried the requisite inventory of hazardous material on board.
"We demand that the concerned authorities re-inspect these ships and hold the ship owners liable for violating Indian and international laws," he added.
"Ships should be made progressively cleaner, by systematically removing and replacing toxic and hazardous substances during maintenance, repair, refitting and rebuilding," he added.
Campaigns Director Shailendra Yashwant claimed that Rainbow Warrior ran into problems 'following unearthing of some environmental pollution cases involving corporate accountability'.
"We were denied landing permission here and were slapped a notice for visa violations," he said. "However, authorities did not elaborate on the kind of violation. The Rainbow Warrior will leave Mumbai today and head for Sri Lanka for a change of crew to enable them join their families for Christmas."
Earlier, at Bhavnagar the ship was fined Rs 100,000 for berthing without required permission. "We suspect there was a joint pressure group at Bhavnagar that prevented us from getting an agent to clear our papers," he said.
"The organisation was forced to modify some programmes but international governments, support groups and organisations have decided to take up the matter in a big was," Yashwant said.
Asked who had put pressure on the Bhavnagar authorities, he said, "We are puzzled. On the one hand the Indian government is working closely with Greenpeace at the International Maritime Organisation to push for mandatory regime for clean ship recycling practices. On the other hand we find that when we assist them by exposing specific instances of violation of Supreme Court directives, as requested by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, they treat us like common criminals."
"Instead of prosecuting us the Indian authorities should prosecute the real criminals, those who willingly continue their illegal practices," said Cosmo Wasennaar, captain of Rainbow Warrior.
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