|In 2011, the crew was rescued when the MV Rak sank off the coast of Mumbai, India. The ship and 60,000 metric tons of coal remain on the ocean floor.|
ELAW joins partners in India celebrating a big victory that will help protect oceans.
Five years ago, a cargo ship sailed from Indonesia loaded with 60,000 metric tons of coal, heading for a power plant in Gujarat, India. It was not seaworthy and sank off the coast of Mumbai, spilling fuel oil that contaminated the ocean and coastal beaches. The Indian government rescued the crew and responded to the oil spill, but the ship and the coal remain on the ocean floor.
Sadly, the ship's owners and insurers quickly denied responsibility and refused to pay for clean-up efforts.
Good news! This week, India's National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruled the sinking resulted from deliberate negligence and ordered the Qatar-based Delta Shipping Co. to pay $15 million for causing marine pollution. Adani Enterprises was fined $700,000 for dumping coal on the seabed. A committee was tasked to determine whether to remove the shipwreck.
"Many thanks to ELAW for its help!" writes Rahul Choudhary of Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) who represented environmentalist Samir Mehta before the National Green Tribunal.
ELAW Staff Scientists helped Indian partners identify the harmful impacts of coal on a marine environment and ELAW Staff Attorneys provided information about international laws that protect the ocean. The NGT order cited scientific reports that ELAW provided.
"This is wonderful news and a deserving victory brought about by the perseverance of our partners in an incredibly complex case," says Liz Mitchell, ELAW Staff Attorney. "Not only did the Green Tribunal hold the ship owner accountable, but it also attributed blame to the company that chartered an unseaworthy ship to import coal for its power plant and then did nothing as the disaster unfolded."
Congratulations to our partners in India and the communities they represent!
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For more information about ELAW's work in India and around the world, please contact:
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide
(541) 687-8454 ext. 106