(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) A Federal National Council (FNC) committee on Tuesday recommended that the Ministry of Environment and Water, in coordination with the competent authorities, should lay down plans to tackle environment issues and such plans and their budget should be approved by the Cabinet.
It said a ship named 'White Whale' carrying 450 tonnes of diesel sank off Umm Al Quwain shore in November 2011. The committee said that the ministry had not taken any swift action to avert any potential damage the accident could have incurred on the marine environment until the FNC committee wrote a report in this regard.
Responding to the debate, representatives from the ministry said that the tests conducted on the sunken ship proved that it did not pose any danger to the marine environment, and the incident was not something to be called 'a catastrophe'. They said lifting the sunken ship on an urgent basis is not necessary as long as it does not put hazard on the marine environment.
The ministry is currently receiving bids from some specialised companies to lift the ship without breaking it.
The committee also said that during its meeting with the representatives from municipalities and local departments concerned, an increase in seabed pollution due to fishing wastes and other wastes were noticed. The amount of wastes collected from the bottom of Dubai Creek and seaports in Dubai came to 1,320 tonnes, the committee observed.
The committee said that according to the ministry estimates, the underground water is being used for 98% of the irrigation needs in the country. It is being used in an improper manner by re-pumping waste water used to clean desalination machines and other chemical substances back to underground, which could pose a danger to the underground water and soil, it said.
The ministry plans to amend the federal law No 24 of 1999 in regards to protecting the Environment to keep pace with the environmental changes the country is witnessing. It also underscored the UAE's commitment to the international agreements regarding desertification and climatic changes, setting up specialised research centres and establishing a unified database regarding the environment issues.
It also plans to constitute strategic emergency plans to handle disasters to the maritime environment. Creating a database about the environmental activity in the country and empowering Ministry of Environment and Water to use its powers in a way that guarantees an effective role in managing the country's environment affairs and establishing a strategic plan of action to raise environment awareness are among the other plans.