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Greenpeace: Clemenceau lesson not learned

NEW DELHI, May 9 (UPI) -- Greenpeace has said the Indian government did not learn any lessons from the controversy over the French battleship Clemenceau.

The Hindu newspaper said Wednesday that the imminent arrival of the SS Norway, carrying over 900 tons of asbestos for ship-breaking at Alang, in Gujarat, suggests that the Indian government has learnt nothing from the issues raised by the controversy over the toxic French battleship Clemenceau.

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The SS Norway ocean liner left Malaysia's west coast last Friday, and is expected to reach Alang on May 23. It belonged to Malaysian Star Cruise Limited, and was purchased by a private shipping company at Alang for $17 million.

"Despite overwhelming evidence (and) widespread public opinion that Alang is a national shame and must be swiftly reformed, there is no political interest beyond lip service within the government of India about the ship-breaking issue," Ramapati Kumar, Greenpeace activist, said.

Kumar said the SS Norway was contaminated with globally banned and cancer-causing chemicals, known as polychlorinated biphenyl, and heavy metals. Even Bangladesh had refused to permit the ship-breaking to occur on its shores, he added.

A Greenpeace statement said India's Ministry of Environment and Forests had failed to ensure workers' protection and environmental safety at Alang, and that these problems were compounded by the fact that the ship-breaking has no intention of improving conditions.

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"If stakeholders in India, led by the government, do not rise to the occasion now and secure Alang's place in the new evolving world order in the shipping industry, the loss will be irretrievable, and India will no longer be a destination of choice for recycling of ships," Kumar warned.

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