The government will take a stand on the India-bound decommissioned French warship 'Clemenceau' after the January 20 meeting of the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on hazardous waste management, a senior official said on Friday.
"The SCMC is meeting on January 20. After that, we will be taking some step in the matter," the official said, while stressing that the asbestos content on the ship was 'negligible' when compared to its total weight.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied that the government had so far received any letter from the Egyptian authorities with regard to the ship.
On the other hand, Greenpeace activists claimed that while banning the ship from its territorial waters, Egypt had asked India to certify that Clemenceau did not violate the Basel Convention on trade in hazardous material.
Greenpeace activists Sebastian and Jeremy stayed put on the ship on Friday as well while it sailed towards the Suez Canal. They had climbed the tug and unfurled a banner on its mast on Thursday, aiming to stall the ship's progress towards Gujarat for being broken up at the Sriram Vessel Scrap Limited in Alang.
Environmentalists say that the 27,000 ton Clemenceau contained upto 500 ton asbestos, which can pollute the soil and harm workers engaged in shipbreaking at Alang.
However, the government official maintained that the export of the ship would violate the Basel Convention only if it carried toxic cargo, which it does not.
As compared to its total weight, the asbestos content on the ship was 'negligible', he claimed, taking a stand similar to what French officials reportedly took in Paris.