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'Government enquiring into asbestos-laden ship heading for Gujarat'

December 19, 2008 13:45 IST

The government today said it will look into the matter relating to a ship named SS Oceanic carrying 250 tonnes of asbestos, which is reported to be heading towards the Alang shipbreaking yard in Gujarat.

"We will give full information in the House after collecting details about this," Union Minister for Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan told Rajya Sabha while replying to supplementaries during Question Hour.

The Ministry had initially said it had "no information about the possible arrival of SS Oceanic at Alang".

However, Paswan said when the notice about the question was given to his Ministry, they replied in the negative, but added that "we will collect information about it and let the House know about this".

The minister also informed the House that "as per Supreme Court directive on improving working conditions at Alang, all corrective measures have been taken for attenuating the hazards of ship breaking and for improving the working conditions at shipbreaking yards at Alang".

As far as "the situation at Alang in terms of pollution level is concerned, it is under control, as per reports given by monitoring committees...We go by the government reports and cannot say anything on our own on this. The reports say that there is no negative effect on environment there," he said.

Paswan agreed that environmental concerns are always an issue at Alang. When Amar Singh [Images] (SP) insisted on a detailed reply on the report of Basel Action Network (an organization working to prevent trade of toxic material) and what the government has done on it, he said "we will find out the details and let the House know".

He said his ministry will also enquire into concerns over environmental hazards in Alang raised by members. 

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