Experts have given the go ahead for the scrapping of a controversial cruise liner which environmentalists say contains toxic material harmful to ship-breakers, officials said on Wednesday.
Greenpeace and other groups say the 46,000-tonne Norwegian cruise liner Blue Lady, which anchored in June off the Alang ship-breaking yard in Gujarat, contains more than 900 tonnes of asbestos which would put the health of workers at risk.
The Supreme Court had allowed the ship to enter Indian waters but put on hold its dismantling, pending a report by an expert panel on the quantum of toxic wastes on board.
Two senior officials, who requested anonymity, informed the panel has allowed the ship to be broken. "The Blue Lady will enter Alang," one of them said. "It will be dismantled soon."
Greenpeace confirmed the panel has given the green signal for the ship to be broken but called the decision "illegal".
"We know the expert panel has found more than 1,000 tonnes of banned pollutants on the ship," Ramapati Kumar of the group said. "How can they allow the ship to be broken? We will expose them."
In February, the French government recalled former aircraft carrier Clemenceau after a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace, which said the ship carried toxic waste.
A Greenpeace report published in December said thousands of workers in the ship-breaking industry in countries such as India, China and Pakistan had probably died over the past two decades in accidents or due to exposure to toxic waste.