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SC shows red flag to Clemenceau

SC shows red flag to Clemenceau

On Sunday CNN-IBN had reported that seven out of 10 members of the monitering committee were in favour of allowing the ship to be dismantled in India.

New Delhi: Finally, the verdict is out on the controversial toxic French warship ship.

The Supreme Court has said that the decommissioned warship Clemenceau cannot enter Indian waters though the bar on the entry is only till February 17.

SC has also banned any demonstration or articles for or against the ship and said that such demonstartions amounted to trail by the media and will be viewed as a contempt of the Court.

In announcing its verdict the Apex Court has rejected the report of its own monitering committee, which said that the ship can be allowed into the Indian waters.

The Court said that the monitering committee was not a group of experts who could decide on the toxic wastes that were on the ship.

Centre has been directed to form a new committee comprising of navy experts who are well versed in the construction and destruction of warships.

It said that the committee should have about four to five members preferably people who have worked with the dockyards.

"We want to know what were the specifications of the ship then (in 1961 when it was made)," Judge SH Kapadia told a hearing on whether the warship should be allowed to be scrapped at a shipyard in western Gujarat state.

The court asked for the appointment of a body comprising retired naval officers to examine the contents of the ship and how it was constructed.

"We would like to have views of the ministry of defence," said another judge, Justice Arijit Pasayat.

The court said it would need the information by its next meeting, on Friday.

On Sunday CNN-IBN had reported that seven out of 11 members of the monitering committee were in favour of allowing the ship to be dismantled in India.

Members of the commission last week admitted the group was split over whether to allow the ship to be broken up at Alang, in Gujarat, and had submitted two reports to the Supreme Court in New Delhi.

France says the vessel is carrying 45 tonnes of cancer-causing asbestos insulation.

But a firm which partially decontaminated it says the amount could be as high as 1,000 tonnes.

Activists argue most sea-going ships end their service at ship-breaking yards in India, Bangladesh, China and Pakistan, where they are cut up by unprotected workers, taking a grim toll on human health and the environment.

Some members of the commission said they had no objection to the ship being dismantled in India "provided certain conditions are in place," said group member and scientist Claude Alvares.

"Seven said 'Yes,' three said 'No' and one was absent, and hence two reports reflecting both views went to the Supreme Court," Alvares said.

"There's no conclusive opinion and hence the two separate reports," said another SCMC member, Sukumar Devotta, head of the state-run National Environmental Research Institute.

But many environmentalists feel that asbestos-carrying French carrier is a huge environmental hazard.

(With inputs from AFP)
first published:February 13, 2006, 13:39 IST