SC seeks Centre`s response on `contaminated` ship

SC`s direction came on a plea seeking ban on entry of foreign tanker `Oriental Nicety` involved in one of the worst US oil spills off Alaska in 1989.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to inform it regarding steps taken by the government to prevent dismantling of ships in India in the wake of allegations of violation of international convention on transboundary movements of hazardous wastes.

The apex court`s direction came on a plea seeking a ban on the entry of foreign tanker `Oriental Nicety`, earlier known as `Exxon Valdez`, which was involved in one of the worst US oil spills off Alaska in 1989.

The ship was to come to India for dismantling and anchor near the Alang beach in Guajarat.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and J Chelameswar passed the order on the application by an NGO Research Foundation for Science.

The bench asked the counsel appearing for the Centre and the Ministry of Shipping to respond to the application.

Advocate Sanjey Parikh, appearing for the NGO, said the International Basel Convention 1989 mandates a ship to be decontaminated from the exporting country before being sent to foreign waters for its dismantling.

"Both counsel are requested to take instructions on the statements made in the interlocutory application and to inform this court as to the steps being taken to prevent the ship berthing in any of the ports in India, without following the conditions indicated in the Basel Convention," the bench said.

The court was hearing a PIL by NGO, Research Foundation for Science, on safe drinking water in the country when the application was moved by Parikh.

Parikh told the court that "the contaminated ship has entered into Indian waters, though it has not yet been allowed to berth in any of the ports without taking proper steps for decontamination in the port of export".
The court has sought the Centre and Shipping Ministry`s
responses in six weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on August 13.

The Basel Convention on `the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal` was adopted on March 22, 1989, in response to a public outcry following the discovery, in the 1980s, in Africa and other parts of the developing world of deposits of toxic wastes imported from abroad.

It aims at reduction of hazardous waste generation and promotion of environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes at the place of disposal and restriction of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes except where it is perceived to be in accordance with the norms.