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The Supreme Court Wednesday expressed concern over the environmental impact of dismantling and recycling of foreign ships carrying radioactive material and other toxic wastes at Alang port in Gujarat.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice C.K. Prasad wondered why these ships were not dismantled or broken in the country of their origin.

Justice Singhvi said that tonnes of toxic waste was being brought to Alang port and dumped there.

The court said that recycling and breaking of ships at Alang port could be beneficial for some people in Gujarat or in other states but it was adversely impacting the environment.

“Why don’t they break these ships in their own countries,” Justice Singhvi asked.

The court made it clear that it would not be an indifferent spectator if there was any adverse bearing on the environment because of ship recycling activities. “If there is a threat to environment, then this court will intervene,” said Justice Singhvi.

The court’s observations came in the course of the hearing of a petition by Alang port-based Ship Recycling Association (India) seeking direction to Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) not to go ahead with the auction of four plots each measuring 120 square metre.

The association asked the court to direct the board to first implement the recommendation of the committee of technical experts which said that smaller plots of 30 square metre each should be merged to create bigger plots as the smaller plots were not suitable for carrying out ship recycling activities.

The association told the court that the board accepted the recommendation of the committee and decided in favour of larger plots by phasing out the existing smaller plots.

The association sought orders restraining the board from auctioning the four plots without first merging the existing smaller plots to create bigger plots. The court declined the plea.

The court dismissed the application by the association.

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