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France says 'ship' still bound for India

An asbestos-laden French warship en route for an Indian scrapyard will continue its journey pending a final court ruling on allowing it into the country, France's defence ministry said on Friday.

world Updated: Jan 07, 2006 01:48 IST

An asbestos-laden French warship en route for an Indian scrapyard will continue its journey pending a final court ruling on allowing it into the country, France's defence ministry said on Friday.

An environmental panel at Supreme Court on Friday accused France of violating the international Basel Convention on the transport of hazardous waste by sending the Clemenceau aircraft carrier to India for decontamination.

But the panel asked for two more weeks to reach a final decision on whether to let the warship proceed to the Alang shipyard.

In the meantime, "the Clemenceau is continuing its journey in international waters," said French defence ministry spokesman Jean-Francois Bureau.

The voyage, which began last weekend, could take up to two months.

Greenpeace and three other groups have tried for months to block the transfer on grounds that shipyard workers are not properly protected from the hazards of working with asbestos, which can cause fatal lung diseases.

Greenpeace France and the Ban Asbestos group, which fought a lengthy legal battle to stop the warship from leaving, on Friday called for it to turn back.

"France's position, arguing that more than 90 per cent of the asbestos has been removed, is absurd and untenable," Pascal Husting, the head of Greenpeace France, was quoted as saying in a joint statement.

"Now that the (Indian) commission has confirmed the highly toxic nature of the Clemenceau and therefore is illegality in India, the French authorities should all back the aircraft carrier," he argued.

First Published: Jan 07, 2006 01:09 IST