‘Legal framework in place to handle shipping accidents'

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on November 18, 2011 Published on November 18, 2011

Mr G.K. Vasan, Union MInister for Shipping and Mr Alan Marsh, Chairman, Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS), UK, at the inaugural session of the 100th anniversary celeberations of the ICS, in Chennai on Friday - Photo : Bijoy Ghosh

India will soon become a party to two conventions of the International Maritime Organisations for having a strong legal framework to claim compensation in case of oil spills, ship wrecks and other accidents in the maritime sector.

The country will accede to the Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage and the Convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling System on ships, said the Union Shipping Minister, Mr G.K. Vasan.

The Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage was adopted to ensure that adequate, prompt, and effective compensation is available to persons who suffer damage caused by oil spills, when carried as fuel in ships' bunkers. The other convention that Mr Vasan referred to prohibits use of harmful chemical compounds in anti-fouling paints used on ships. Mr Vasan's statement while inaugurating an international seminar on Towards Sustainable Shipping follows the recent oil leak from the Panama-flagged sunken cargo vessel, m.v. Rak, spilling over the coast of Mumbai. To commemorate the 100{+t}{+h} anniversary celebrations, the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers - Madras chapter, organised the seminar on the theme Towards Sustainable Shipping.

Legal framework

Mr Vasan said India has already put in place a legal framework to handle shipping accidents by acceding to two international conventions -- the Wreck removal convention and the Protocol to the Convention on limited liability for maritime claims.

The first provides a legal basis for states to remove, or have removed, shipwrecks that may have the potential to affect adversely the safety of lives, goods and property at sea, as well as the marine environment.

The second provides increased compensation payable to a person in the event of an accident in ship. While shipping is seen to be an eco-friendly mode of transport compared to road and rail, there is further scope for improvement in controlling noxious emissions while ships are at sea and in port, he said.

Mr Vasan said based on experience in handling marine accidents witnessed in the recent past, it has been seen that the age of the ship plays a critical role in such accidents.

Therefore, the Government plans to issue a notification imposing restrictions on ships, which are over 25 years old, to prevent marine accidents and consequent implication for the marine environment.

Published on November 18, 2011
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