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Fishermen's Union challenges the Departure of the vessel that caused the Oil Spill in Chennai Coast

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 settled.

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 accident.

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.


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