Bindu Shajan Perappadan

"France has lied about amount of hazardous materials on ship"

12 activists detained for over two and a half hours at Chanakyapuri station in DelhiEnvironment Ministry urged to revoke clearance for Clemenceau

NEW DELHI: Twelve Greenpeace activists were detained for over two and a half hours at the Chanakyapuri police station here on Tuesday after they staged a demonstration outside the French Embassy against the sending of Georges Clemenceau, French aircraft carrier, carrying deadly asbestos, to India for dismantling.

The activists held aloft posters and pictures of the poor working conditions at the ship-breaking yard at Alang in Gujarat, where the decommissioned ship was headed.

They later met Ambassador Dominique Girard and asked him to take positive action.

"France has behaved shamefully as far as the Clemenceau is concerned. They have lied about the amount of hazardous materials on board, tried to hide behind confidentiality clauses, and deliberately misrepresented facts," said Ramapati Kumar, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

"France clearly has no respect for international laws it purports to support, let alone the environment or the welfare of workers on the ship-breaking yards, who would be exposed to the toxic wastes on board this ship," he said.

"Panel misled"

Activist groups said the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) in India had been misled by the ship-decommissioning agency and ship-breakers.

While the SCMC was assured that 98 per cent of the wastes on board the Clemenceau would be removed in France itself, the reality was otherwise.

"Considering that none of the conditions laid down by the SCMC has been met, Greenpeace calls on the Ministry of Environment and Forests to revoke its clearance for the Clemenceau and prohibit its arrival. The French Government must fulfil its obligations under the Basel Convention and take full responsibility for proper decontamination of the Clemenceau, instead of dumping it on ship-breaking yards in India or elsewhere," said a Greenpeace volunteer here.

"The Clemenceau is French property as is all the hazardous waste on the ship. They cannot be allowed to dump this waste in India simply because the country's scrap-yard labour is unorganised, cheap and exploitable. It does not allow France to inflict further harm upon these workers," P. K. Ganguly, a member of the National Working Committee of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, said in a statement.

"A national shame"

"Apart from the havoc the Clemenceau will wreak on the Indian environment and workers' health, it is a symbol of the developed world's arrogant assumption that India can be a recipient of its refuse. This is a matter of national shame that should sting every Indian. The Indian Government's passive acceptance of this dumping is certainly not in keeping with India's growing international stature,'' said G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Executive Director of Greenpeace India.