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The National Green Tribunal has ruled that ships entering Indian waters must adhere to the country’s environmental laws.

The ruling was given by a bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore which said that because of the lack of effective monitoring of pollution caused by ships entering Indian Maritime Zone, pollution has been on the rise. The judgment came on a plea that sought directions to monitor the pollution caused by ships and vessels entering the Indian maritime coastal waters, agencies reported.

The plea said that the air pollutants emitted by the ships include particulate matter, sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide carbon monoxide, methane, nitrous oxide, black carbon and non-methane volatile organic compounds. Ghosh also stated that shipping emissions are rapidly rising as trade through water-bore transport is increasing around the globe.

The Tribunal said all the vessels, Indian and Foreign, entering into Indian Maritime Zone are subject to relevant provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, as well as rules framed there under until comprehensive Indian Merchant Shipping Rules come into force. The Ministry of Shipping says that, approximately 95 per cent of the India’s trade by volume and 68 per cent by value is moved through maritime transport. The plea had claimed that the ships were responsible for emitting a “significant amount of air pollutants into the atmosphere” by burning fuel while sailing or waiting in the docks.

The air pollution caused by ships has severe impact on the ambient air quality of the coastal areas as they emit pollutants like particulate matter, sulphur oxides or nitrogen oxides which contribute to global air pollution as well, the petition had said.  The National Green Tribunal has observed and said that vessels entering Indian waters are subject to environmental laws.

The tribunal also directed the Ministry of Shipping and Director General of Shipping to come out with a comprehensive Merchant Shipping rules which will not only include merchant ships but also the fishing vessels which use gensets of capacities mentioned in the various notifications of the MoEF&CC within a period of one year.

—India Legal Bureau

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