Free Press Journal

Govt okays ratification of Bunker Convention


New Delhi: The government today approved a proposal for India’s accession to an international convention which ensures compensation for damage caused by ship bunker oil spills.

It also gave its nod to amend the Merchant Shipping Act to protect Indian waters from wreck hazards. “The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today approved the Ministry of Shipping’s proposal for India’s accession to the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, 2001, of the IMO as well as to amend the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, to give effect to the Bunker Convention, Nairobi Convention and Salvage Convention,” an official statement said.

The International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage 2001, known as Bunker Convention, provides for “adequate, prompt, and effective compensation” for damage caused by spills of oil carried as fuel in ships’ bunkers.

The territorial jurisdiction for damage compensation extends to territorial sea and exclusive economic zones, it said, adding that it applies to an Indian vessel irrespective of its location, and a foreign flag vessel within Indian jurisdiction.

“The registered owner of every vessel has to maintain a compulsory insurance cover which allows claim for compensation for pollution damage to be brought directly against an insurer,” it said.

Every ship above 1,000 gross tonnage needs to carry a certificate on board to the effect that it maintains insurance or other financial security such as guarantee of a bank or a similar financial institution.

In India, the Directorate General of Shipping would issue the certificate while in foreign countries, respective maritime authorities would do the needful, the statement said.

It added: “No vessel will be permitted to enter or leave India without such a certificate.” The Bunker Convention 2001 is already in force since November 2008 and maritime countries accounting for 91 per cent of world shipping tonnage are signatories to this Convention.