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Another toxic ship enters India

SC has allowed scrapping of Blue Lady, provided it's declared safe by experts.

india Updated: Jul 01, 2006 17:19 IST

A former cruise liner anchored in Indian waters on Friday, despite protests by environmentalists who say it contains toxic asbestos hazardous to the health of the ship-breakers.

The Supreme Court has allowed the scrapping of the 46,000-tonne Blue Lady, formerly SS Norway, provided it is declared safe by experts.

The vessel is berthed 73 nautical miles off Alang, a sprawling shipbreaking yard in Gujarat and port officials said experts were checking the asbestos content.

Greenpeace and other groups say the ship contains more than 900 tonnes of asbestos and due to the lack of modern technology at yards like Alang, it is not safe for the workers to break it.

In a report last December, the group 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.

But the workers at Alang are eagerly waiting for the ship.

"We pray to scrap the Blue Lady. By cutting it, we will get money every day," said Devan Guna.

In February, the French government recalled aircraft carrier Clemenceau as it was en route for Alang after a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace, which said the ship carried toxic waste.