Cabinet nod to India joining convention on oil spill damages

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) The union cabinet on Wednesday approved the Ministry of Shipping’s proposal for India to join the Bunker Convention to ensure compensation for damages caused by spills of oil when carried as fuel in ship bunker.

The decision was taken at the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The union cabinet today (Wednesday) approved the Ministry of Shipping’s proposal for India’s accession to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001, (Bunker Convention) of the International Maritime Organisation [IMO],” an official release said.

It said that the cabinet also decided to ament the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, to give effect to the Bunker Convention, Nairobi Convention and Salvage Convention.

“The Bunker Convention ensures adequate, prompt, and effective compensation for damage caused by spills of oil, when carried as fuel in ships’ bunkers. The territorial jurisdiction for damage compensation extends to territorial sea and exclusive economic zones. It applies to an Indian vessel, wherever it is situated, and to a vessel carrying foreign flag while it is within Indian jurisdiction,” the release said.

Registered owner of every vessel has to maintain compulsory insurance cover which allows claim for compensation for pollution damage.

Adopted in March 2001, the Bunker Convention is in force internationally since November 2008 and maritime nations accounting for 91 percent of world’s shipping tonnage are parties to the agreement.

If India did not become a party to Bunker Convention, ships with the Indian flag visiting foreign ports would have to continue with the present dispensation of approaching foreign countries for bunker insurance compliance certificates, the release pointed out.

The proposed amendments to the Merchant Shipping Act of 1958 shall also give effect to the Nairobi Wreck Removal Convention and the Salvage Convention of the IMO to which India is already a party.

It would facilitate more purposeful approach towards removal of wrecks and salvage, protect Indian waters from wreck hazards and introduce internationally recognised and approved rules for removal of wrecks, the release said.

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