Wednesday May 26, 2021
KARACHI: A ship containing hazardous material, which was denied permission by India and Bangladesh to berth, has been allowed to enter Pakistani waters despite a clear warning by Interpol.
On April 22, Interpol had asked the Interpol Pakistan and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to not allow the ship into the country. It contains 1,500 tonnes of mercury-mixed oil.
However, the ship has been anchored at the Gadani ship-breaking yard and work is underway to dismantle it.
The ship was not allowed by the Bangladeshi and Indian authorities due to the dangerous substance aboard it which poses a serious threat to the environment.
In Mumbai, the name of the ship was changed from FS Ordient to Cherish, after which it reached Karachi from Mumbai on April 21.
“The owners of the ship had succeeded to bring it to Gadani after obtaining permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) without getting the required approval from [the] concerned departments,” according to a report in The News.
They said that after getting the warning letter from Interpol, the Ministry of Environment and three other federal ministries were busy exchanging letters with each other.
The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), EPA Balochistan and Customs were responsible for stopping the ship from entering Pakistan.
Sources said that the news about Cherish's arrival was shared on an official Facebook page.
When the officials were contacted regarding the ship, the work on the ship-breaking was stopped and EPA Balochistan sealed the plot where the ship was anchored.
The concerned officials have not responded to the queries sent to them.
Despite the dangers of the hazardous material, the owner has deployed workers to empty the ship.
Mercury-mixed oil sludge is being removed from the ship and filled in drums for sale.
Workers have complained of severe burning and rashes on their hands and face and breathing difficulties.
They requested that their faces not be shown on TV for fear of losing their jobs.
The Balochistan government has ordered an inquiry into the container in question having been allowed to dock at the ship yard.
According a notification shared by Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani, the deputy commissioner has tasked the additional deputy commissioner with ascertaining:
1. Which authorities permitted the said vessel to anchor at the Gadani ship-breaking yard?
2. Who is responsible to check documentation before a vessel is allowed to beach?
3. Who is responsible for ascertaining threats to the environment before a ship is allowed to anchor?
4. How and why did EPA seal the plot and not BDA (Balochistan Development Authority) and that too 20 days after the vessel was beached?
"Moreover, all concerned are directed to immediately take all safety precautions and necessary measures to avoid any untoward incident that may occur due to presence of the subject vessel," read the deputy commissioner's notification.