Maritime Security Concerns Remain Unaddressed
DG Shipping Must Demand Details of Port of Registry, Name and address of ship owner, IMO registered owner identification number and IMO company identification Number
In the wake of the incident of MV Wisdom, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) demands that no ship whether for dismantling or for shipping, be allowed in Indian waters without the name of Port of Registry, Name and address of ship owner, IMO registered owner identification number and IMO company identification Number unless this is done no seller will be traceable. (Refer to Appendix 4 of attached Hongkong Convention, page no. 39)
As to buyers there are two buyers-cash buyer and end buyer and if the vessel in question was for Alang delivery, it merits inquiry.
It is noteworthy that such vessels are registered in tax haven countries. The global shipping companies mutilate rule of law in the Indian waters with connivance and indulgence from Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in a routine manner. Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Steel, Government of India must coordinate efforts to ensure that such incidents do not happen in future.
TWA demands before allowing the salvage operation, the documents of ownership of the vessel must be verified by Directorate General of Shipping, Ministry of Shipping because Customs has expressed its inability to verify the genuineness of these documents as per the report of the Standing Monitoring Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests.
The vessel should not be allowed be dismantled where it is grounded which would mean fulfilling the ulterior motive of the ship owner. The vessel’s IMO Number is 8417558. It is under Singapore flag. The vessel was built 1985.
On the way from Colombo to Alang, this 147-metre long cargo vessel had to cross the Mumbai coast where it broke free from its tug and drifted towards the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Under tow vessels are more risky. Due to rough weather, tug ropes break free. There are no crew members on dump tows. Such vessels are made water tight. MV Wisdom’s tug, the MV Seabulk Plover has been brought to Mumbai.
TWA demands that no ship under tow be permitted in Indian waters from 15th May to 15th August during monsoon for the security of the port. Many a times monsoon is used as an excuse to dump end- of-life vessels in Indian waters. Transnational shipping companies are attempting to turn most of the end- of-life vessels into under tow vessels which are quite risky for Indian navigation route.
It germane to note that the next meeting of the Supreme Court constituted Inter-ministerial Committee (IMC) on Ship breaking, Union Ministry of Steel is scheduled for 8th July. So far IMC has not submitted any action taken report to the court.
The minutes of IMC meetings dated 17th September, 2010 notes that “The Coast Guard representative brought out some security concerns and incidents of communication sets from ships reportedly finding their way to the local fisherman. It was advised to the Ship recyclers to ensure that such equipment are immediately destroyed by the Customs as per the prescribed procedures. The Chairman also advised the Naval, Coast Guard and GMB to regularly interact as per the decisions taken in the earlier IMC meetings and to resolve the major security issues in the Coastal Security Committee meetings conducted at the State Level.”
In its minute dated 4th February 2009, the IMC noted the Security Concerns, saying, “Both the representative of the Coast Guard and the representative from Naval HQ raised concerns over the entry of ships carrying hazardous cargo to Alang for ship breaking and how no information is made available to them regarding the movement of ships to Alang. Besides this there was no information regarding whether the Alang Port is compliant with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. In the context of the present security concerns in the country, the Chairman advised the representative of the Ministry of Shipping, the GMB officials, the Coast Guard representative and the Naval HQs to address the issue expeditiously so that the security gaps are taken care of and also to verify whether the port at Alang has implemented the ISPS codes. The Coast Guard representative and the Naval HQ representative also expressed apprehensions that the vessels coming in for beaching sometimes ply very close to the oil rigs, which could be a potential for accidents.”
It also mentions that the Chairman of the IMC “directed that the Ministry of Shipping may organize a meeting on the matter with GMB, Naval HQ and Coast Guard HQ, Custom etc. immediately and ensure that gaps in the security frame-work issues are addressed immediately”.
The issue of MSC Chitra collision with another Merchant vessel Khailijia 3 near the Mumbai Port Trust on 7th August 2010, container vessel wherein an enquiry was ordered also merits attention.
An inquiry has been ordered by the DG Shipping into the causes of the incident of MV Wisdom. Several months have passed but has the Ministry of Shipping bothered to disclose the reasons in the case of MSC Chitra? The inquiry in the case of MV Wisdom should not meet the same fate.
Entry of such end-of-life vessels constitute an act of dumping of hazardous wastes in various disguises. Earlier, Union Shipping Minister gave vague information to the Lok Sabha saying “Different type of dangerous and Hazardous goods” are lying at Mumbai port from different dates starting from March 1983 including empty chlorine cylinders. He did not name and specify these dangerous and hazardous goods. A High level committee was also constituted to examine the cylinders/packages and advise on the measures to be taken/ methodology to be followed for neutralization of chemicals/gases and ultimate disposal of all the
uncleared hazardous cargo lying in the Port. The report is still awaited.
It may be noted that 22 % of the vessels are insulated vessels (asbestos and glass wool) as per industry sources. Bangladesh has banned insulated vessels. Pakistan has recognized the non-viability of insulated vessels. Mumbai port has issued a circular refusing insulated vessels but Alang port is continues to allow it. In the next one month 10-15 insulated are expected to come to Alang. Even industry sources say that they should not be allowed. In the refrigeration vessels (for perishable cargo), the entire vessel is insulated whereas in other vessels insulation is only in the engine.
Despite the opposition of environmental organizations, human rights and labour groups and even the ship breaking industry of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, Union Ministry of Shipping has taken a unwise decision to become a party to the adoption of IMO’s HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR THE SAFE AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND RECYCLING OF SHIPS, 2009 although its a major step backwards from existing international and national environmental law. Unmindful of the fact that the IMO treaty will not prevent a single toxic ship from being exported and dumped on the beaches of India, Shipping Ministry refused to change its course although existing international law makes it illegal to export toxic waste to developing countries, to disproportionately burden the poor with pollution.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance, Mb: 9818089660,