Madras High Court has reserved its order on a petition by National Union of
Fishermen challenging the clearance given by the Directorate General of
Shipping for the departure of the oil carrier BW Maples which caused the oil
spill in Chennai coast in January this year.
The vessel, a gas carrier registered in the Isle of Man collided with M V
Kanchipuram near the entrance of the Kamarajar port causing massive oil spill
off the Chennai coast in January this year. It took nearly two months for the
governmental agencies to clear the spill. The spill seriously affected the
fishing operations in the coast.
The ship was impounded in Kamarajar Port, Ennore for the past nine months
when the order was issued by DG Shipping last week permitting the Departure of
the ship from the port.
The National Union of fishermen challenged the decision of DG shipping in
the Madras high court describing the order as whimsical and urged the court to
intervene and order impounding of the vessel till the dues of the fishermen are
Admitting the public interest litigation and after hearing the arguments of
both the parties the first bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Indira
Banerjee and Justice M Sundar posted the plea to October nine for passing
orders. In effect the judgment was kept reserved.
The National Union of fishermen contended in the court that when the cases
were pending against the vessel in the southern bench of the National Greens
Tribunal claiming compensation for the environmental pollution created by the
When the criminal investigations are going on, the directorate general of
shipping has granted no objection certificate for the departure of the ship
from the Kamarajar port Ennore.
Denying the allegation the Master of the vessel BW Maples told the Court
that the Owner of the vessel, through insurers had arranged for executing a
bank gurantee for Rs 203 crores in favour of DG Shipping. Based on this
document, the department came to the conclusion that continued detention of the
vessel was not necessary.