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EJOLT is making a difference: positive ruling by Supreme Court of India on shipbreaking

Good news from India: the Supreme Court is putting the movement of the US owned hazardous end-of-life vessel named ‘Oriental Nicety’ under its watch. This follows a demand made by Gopal Krishna of ToxicWatchAlliance (TWA), with whom EJOLT works together. The Ministry of Shipping is told 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 The anchorage permission that was granted to the ship for anchoring on May 9, 2012, has been withdrawn.

It might look like a small victory to stop 1 ship from entering Indian harbors but the consequences are huge. There is of course the symbolic value of not allowing the ship that caused the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in the US to now pollute India with all the toxics it still has on board. But there is an even bigger value to the ruling. India is a party to the Basel Convention, while the USA is not. This makes the attempt to dump the hazardous Exxon Valdez disaster ship not only unjust but also illegal. The US government lifted the moratorium imposed on the transfer of toxic ships to developing countries … but India is keeping the door shut. By doing this, India is showing to other developing countries that you can be an ally with the US – without tolerating such grave and illegal environmental injustices. That is the message this ruling should have.

EJOLT and the ToxicWatchAlliance have joined hands in the work towards this success. Federico Demaria from UAB, who wrote the chapter on shipbreaking for the EJOLT report on industrial waste, presented his results in April together with Gopal Krishna from TWA at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. They were also interviewed by Voice of America and Gopal Krishna from TWA now managed to convince the Supreme Court of India of the need to implement internationally agreed environmental laws. Environmental Justice is not an activist dream, but a reachable goal.

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