There's so much pollution in the air now that if it weren't for our lungs there'd be no place to put it all. -Robert Orben
The order of the French President Jacques Chirac, which requires the decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau to be sent back to France, represents the overall victory of Indian workers, social support groups and environmentalists worldwide. The order has been issued following dismissal of the proposed transfer of the ship that is laden with poisonous material (lead, mercury, asbestos and PCBs) by the top administrative court in France.
The French President has further stated that the European Union should re-consider about strengthening of Europe's capacity to dispose of pollution. He also called for an international collaboration between environmentalists to formulate more effective waste disposal laws. Additional tests have been ordered to determine the exact asbestos content of the 26,700-ton vessel after it's return to France.
The Government in France had permitted the ship to leave for India, on the grounds that it was purely a military matter. It has been argued that the lack of proper available scrap yards in Europe and the relatively few choices for dismissal should be sufficient enough to permit dismantling of the ship where the World's biggest ship-breaking yard is located (Alang in Gujarat).
Shriram Vessels and Scrap Pvt Ltd, an Indian based ship-breaking company that had purchased the controversial warship is being passive to the situation. The company officials have said that the media is hyping the issue when no official communication has been received. They even refused to comment about the return of the asbestos laden ship, back to France.
The international law and organizations like Greenpeace, and members from different walks of their community have actively participated in the protest against acceptance of this expensive, yet dangerous junk. The issue of Clemenceau disposal raises serious concerns about the formulation of an international waste disposal law that would hold good for all times as it is not the first instance where such ships with toxic materials have been sent over to Asian countries.
This is very vital, especially in a country like India where little efforts are being taken to preserve and protect the rights of workers. The workers have very little chance to rebel against such issues as they are forced to work under hazardous conditions due to poverty. Individuals who work in ship-breaking yards face significant risk of fatal injuries or even cancer in the long-term.
Medindia extends its sincere appreciation and gratitude to all those who have actively participated in the 'Clemenceau Protest' by their unique way through participating in the related 'Clemenceau Health Poll', without which this victory would not have been possible.