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Dead' US ship in Gujarat despite Centre's marching orders

New Delhi: Condemned US miltray ship 'Platinum-II' continues to be anchored off Alang in Gujarat waiting to be dismantled, despite the Centre ordering it on November 9, 2009 to return to its place of origin. 'Platinum-II' was called 'SS Oceanic' and 'SS Independence' before it was declared "dead" by the US naval administration.

The highly-contaminated ship entered Indian waters clandestinely waving a fake flag and using fake papers. Environmentalist Gopal Krishna, who is at the forefront of a legal battle againstbreaking of contaminated ships at Alang, said the 'Platinum-II' owner lied that the erstwhile warship was registered with Singapore-based Kiribati Ship Registry.

He said the registry's operations manager Liau Siew Leng told him on Saturday that neither 'Platinum-II' nor its tug 'Barracuda-I' was registered with them.

Krishna said Indian Captain Arun Kumar Das was the master of the tug that towed the "dead vehicle" from Dubai to Gujarat in complete disregard of maritime laws.Leng has already lodged a complaint with the Indian authorities pointing out irregularities by 'Platinum II', which, an environment ministry probe says, carries hazardous waste, including 238 tonnes of asbestos-containing material and polychlorinated biphenyl and radioactive material, besides 126 used lead batteries.

Krishna has sought a CBI inquiry into the illegal entry of at least 300 ailing ships to feed the ship-breaking industry in Gujarat.

Daily News & Analysis
Rakesh Bhatnagar

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