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The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, today approved the Ministry of Shipping's proposal for introducing 'official amendments' to the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill 2013. The amendments incorporate the recommendations of the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee and for accession to the Anti Fouling Systems (AFS) Convention 2001 of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) after enactment of the Bill. 

There are no financial implications involved. By acceding to the AFS Convention, all Indian flag sea going vessels having 400 gross tonnage or more, would be issued with an International Anti-Fouling System Certificate, after due verification. This will enable them to engage in international shipping activities without having to approach other governments, who have ratified the Convention for such certificates. 

Further, India will be able to ensure that all foreign flag vessels entering Indian territorial waters or the Exclusive Economic Zone are duly certified in accordance with the requirement of the AFS Convention 2001. 

The AFS Convention aims to protect the environment and human health from adverse effects of anti-fouling systems used in ships by, among other things prohibiting application/use of listed harmful anti-fouling systems, requiring removal of organotin biocides from hulls to prevent leaching and mandating parties to take appropriate measures for collection, handling, treatment and disposal of wastes from the removal of an anti-fouling system in an environmentally sound manner. 

Anti-fouling paints are used on the ship's surface to control the growth of foulant organisms, such as barnacles, mussels, oysters, tube worms, etc which affect the speed of ships. Such use of anti-fouling paints, when persistent in the water, leads to "leaching" into sea-water. This harms the marine environment in contravention to the precautionary approach set out in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. 

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PM condole deaths in Virar Hospital fire, approves ex-gratia
April 23, 2021
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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has condoled deaths due to fire in COVID-19 hospital in Virar. He wished early recovery for the injured. The Prime Minister approved an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to the hospital fire in Virar, Maharashtra. Rs. 50,000 would be given to those seriously injured.