India media ban over ‘toxic’ ship
France has offered to take back the Clemenceau’s asbestos
India’s supreme court has temporarily banned all demonstrations and media articles on the decommissioned French aircraft carrier, the Clemenceau.
The ban runs until Friday and anyone breaking it will be held in contempt of court, Judge Arijit Pasayat said.
The court has also asked the defence ministry to form a panel to assess the amount of toxic waste on the ship.
The Clemenceau, which is lined with asbestos, has been told to stay away from Indian waters until Friday.
The French carrier is on its way to Alang ship-breaking yard in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
It is reported that the court ordered the media ban after the press ran stories about differences of opinion between members of a team of environmental experts, before they had testified to the court.
Locals are in favour of the ship coming to Alang
The court has criticised the "trial by the media" and has banned newspapers from publishing what it calls "one-sided reports" on the controversial ship.
"We are shocked to find demonstrations are held and articles written, and if anyone is found to be doing so, he should prima facie be held for contempt of court and suitable action be taken against him," Judge Arijit Pasayat told the court.
Environmental group Greenpeace has been campaigning against the ship’s journey to the Indian breaking yard, and has repeatedly demanded that France take back the asbestos-lined ship, amid fears that it could put Indian shipworkers’ health at risk.
But the Gujarat Maritime Board, which leases out the yards, says the workers are trained to handle the ship’s toxic waste.
Dominique Girard, the French ambassador to India, visited the Alang ship-breaking yard last week and offered to take back the asbestos waste to France, if the Indian government wanted it to.
The BBC’s Geeta Pandey says that the local people are in favour of the Clemenceau being dismantled at Alang, as the entire local economy depends on this one industry.
Only about 15 out of 173 yards in Alang are now operational, and they are losing out to competition from China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where environmental standards are less stringent, maritime officials say.