The central government has initiated stringent measures to control pollution of seas and inland waterways by ships such as surprise inspection of both Indian and foreign vessels entering or passing through the country’s maritime zones and inland waterways.
The matter, related to pollution of seas and inland waterways, has come up in the Lok Sabha. The government has clarified that not only the existing ships in India but also the new ships or ships under construction have been asked to comply with various anti-pollution measures before they begin their operations.
Ships are subjected to initial inspection after their construction to ensure that they are fitted with all the necessary equipment to prevent pollution of seas. Once the ship is put into operation, it is subjected to periodical inspections at regular intervals, annually, to verify the operation capabilities of the pollution control equipment.
This is also done to ensure that the vessel is in compliance with all the applicable anti-pollution rules and regulations, the Ministry of Shipping in its note to the Parliament maintained.
Besides, the ministry stated, surprise inspections were also conducted by surveyors stationed at various Mercantile Marine Department on Indian and Foreign Flag vessels through powers granted under Section 356G [Power of Surveyor to board a ship (Indian or Foreign) to verify compliance to the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.
The ships found violating the rules are detained until the non-compliance of rules are rectified and a detention fee is imposed. To prevent ships from violating regulatory requirements, reception facilities at ports to receive wastes generated by ships have also been arranged.
The Directorate General of Shipping has also developed a centralized online portal called “Swachh Sagar” for the request and provisioning of waste reception facilities.
In order to reduce pollution of air by sulphur oxide, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) has been amended. It has already been provisioned that from 1 January 2020 onwards Sulphur content of fuel used onboard ships should not exceed 0.5 per cent mass/mass. The Directorate General of Shipping has issued a circular in 2019 implementing the same on Indian Ships and foreign ships coming to Indian ports, according to the ministry.