From: Ashok Sharma, Associated Press
Published January 4, 2006 12:00 AM

Police Briefly Hold Greenpeace Activists Accusing France of Dumping Toxic Wastes in India

NEW DELHI — Police on Tuesday detained 13 Greenpeace activists outside the French Embassy in New Delhi, where they were accusing France of sending an old military aircraft carrier containing toxic waste to a shipbreaking yard in India.


Indian police took the protesters away from the embassy, said Greenpeace India's media officer, Namrata Chowdhary, who was among the 13 detained.


They were released after being kept in a police station for three and a half hours, Chowdhary told The Associated Press.


Greenpeace India activist Rampati Kumar, who was also among those detained, said the carrier Clemenceau held hundreds of tons of toxic waste, including 500 tons of asbestos.


He accused France of violating the Basel Convention, an international pact on trade in potentially hazardous waste.


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The Clemenceau "has already been rejected by Turkey and Greece," Kumar told reporters. His claim could not immediately be verified.


There was no comment from the French Embassy.


Dominique Girard, the French ambassador to India, later met a Greenpeace delegation and accepted a memorandum demanding that French authorities call back the ship, said Chowdhary. He, however, gave no assurances.


"They are illegally dumping the ship on India," Kumar said.


Kumar also urged India's government to reject the ship.


He said France had promised to remove 98 percent of the asbestos. "But as of now, they haven't even decontaminated more than 30 percent," he said.


French Embassy guards had snatched the protesters' banners, Kumar said.


The protest came as the ship left France bound for the Alang shipbreaking yard in western India's Gujarat state, said a statement from Greenpeace India. It is expected to take two months to reach India as it was being towed to Gujarat.


Source: Associated Press


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