JIT formed to probe anchoring of ship carrying chemicals at Gadani

A ship containing 1,500 tonnes of mercury-mixed oil has been allowed to anchor at the Gadani ship-breaking yard. Source: Screengrab/ Online

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has formed a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the anchoring of a ship containing hazardous chemicals at Gadani shipbreaking yard in Balochistan.

The JIT comprises senior officials of seven different departments, including Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Ministry of Maritime Affairs, and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), to launch a probe into the matter.

The JIT is expected to conclude its investigations within ten days and will submit its report to the federal government. The JIT has started investigations and sought documents from the officials about the ship.

Earlier, an investigation has been launched after a ship containing hazardous material, which was denied permission by India and Bangladesh to berth, was allowed entry into Pakistani waters despite a clear warning by Interpol.

On April 22, Interpol had asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to not allow the ship into the country containing 1,500 tonnes of mercury-mixed oil. However, the ship anchored at the Gadani shipbreaking yard and work was underway to dismantle it.

The ship was not allowed by the Bangladeshi and Indian authorities due to the dangerous substance which poses a serious threat to the environment. The name of the ship was changed from FS Ordient to Cherish in Mumbai, after which it reached Karachi on April 21.

The Balochistan government has ordered an inquiry into the container in question having been allowed to dock at the shipyard. The work on the shipbreaking was stopped and EPA Balochistan has sealed the plot where the ship was anchored for scrapping and sent the samples of the material to three private laboratories in Karachi.

The Lasbela deputy commissioner has ordered an investigation and asked the authorities concerned to ascertain how the ship reached Gadani despite information shared with Pakistani authorities by Interpol about the presence of dangerous material in the ship.

The owner of the ship had managed to bring the ship to Gadani and deployed workers to empty the ship despite the dangers of the hazardous material.

According to a notification, the deputy commissioner had tasked the additional deputy commissioner to ascertain which authorities permitted the vessel to anchor at the Gadani shipbreaking yard and who is responsible to check documentation before a vessel is allowed to beach

The inquiry will also find out who is responsible for ascertaining threats to the environment before a ship is allowed to anchor. It also seeks to know how and why did EPA seal the plot after twenty days.