The indefinite wait of the controversial ship “Platinum-II,” for permission for dismantling at the Alang ship-breaking yard near Bhavnagar on the Saurashtra coast of Gujarat, has been prolonged further with the Gujarat Maritime Board promising to inquire into the queries raised by the Union Environment Ministry about the background of the ship.
“The GMB will look into the irregularities pertaining to the ship which have been brought to its notice by the Union Environment Ministry and revert back to it,” official sources said.
The “Platinum-II,” which was halted in the high seas as it approached Alang last month for dismantling, will have to wait till the GMB team submits its report to the Centre and a decision is taken about whether to allow it to berth at Alang or not .
Though initially the issues raised were about the alleged toxic materials being carried by the ship, the objections against it being berthed at Alang were mainly based on the alleged irregularities committed by the ship in the past.
An “office memorandum” issued by the Union Environment Ministry asked the GMB to inquire into the case of falsified ownership of the vessel and the “assumed names” under which it entered into Indian territorial waters without carrying the flag of any nation.
Originally named “SS Independence,” the vessel later changed its name to “SS Oceanic” before assuming the name “Platinum-II” under a falsified registration process. Environmental activists campaigning against giving the ship permission for dismantling claimed that the ship furnished fake registration documents in the name of the “government of Kiribati” and did not carry any national flag.
The new owner of the ship, Komalkant Sharma, who had bought it for dismantling, however, was very upset over all the developments. “The Central team had come to investigate but seemed to be only the eyes and ears of the environmentalists and did not bother to give any hearing to the owner of the ship,” he said.
The Alang Ship Recycling Association president V. K. Gupta claimed that “Platinum-II” did not violate any of the criteria laid down by the Supreme Court for allowing dismantling of ships carrying toxic materials. “But if the ship is violating any other law of the land or has committed irregularities in the past, it is a different matter and will have to be dealt with accordingly,” he said.