New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel has expressed displeasure at non-commercial vessels not being prohibited from using paints that contain harmful chemicals, saying the practice would adversely impact marine life.
The panel has asked government to consider all aspects carefully and also frame rules for waste disposal from vessels.
"The proposed amendments would be applicable to all Merchant Ships registered under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958... But it remains silent about the `non-government vessels on non-commercial service`... The use of harmful paints by any ship, in fact would affect marine environment adversely. These aspects, the Committee recommends, should be considered carefully by the Ministry," Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture said in its latest report.
The Merchant Shipping Amendment Bill, which was introduced in Rajya Sabha on March 18 and referred to the panel headed by Sitaram Yechury for examination, proposes to prohibit all commercial ships barring warships and naval auxiliary from using anti-fouling paints, which has been found killing sea life and damaging marine environment.
The Committee said the Shipping Ministry even could not furnish any data about the number of such non-commercial ships saying that it had data about only merchant ships.
"In the absence of such a data, the Committee feels, it is difficult to know the extent of the vessels being left out from the ambit of the proposed Bill," it said.
Such paints have been found using metallic compounds, which slowly "leach" into the sea water, killing barnacles and other marine life that get attached to the ship and "studies have shown that these compounds persist in the water, killing sea life, harming the environment and possibly entering the food chain," it said.
Also the committee stressed that "merely placing an anti-fouling system on a vessel will not suffice. The waste from the vessel needs to be collected and disposed off, safely," and the government should frame necessary Rules within six months from the date of notification of this Amendment Act.
The main objective of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, is to ensure development and efficient maintenance of the Indian mercantile marine in a manner best suited to serve the national interest.
The Act has been amended from time to time in light of the experience gained in its implementation and also to give effect to the provisions of various International Conventions to which India has acceded.