By Zubair Ahmed
BBC News, Mumbai
India has put a temporary block on a French warship with tonnes of toxic material from entering Indian waters, saying it needs more information.
A final decision about the warship's fate is due in two weeks
The aircraft carrier Clemenceau was bound for Alang, the world's biggest ship-breaking yard, in west India.
The Supreme Court ordered a monitoring panel on hazardous waste to deliberate on the issue in Mumbai (Bombay).
The panel told the ship not to enter Indian waters until it made a final decision in two weeks' time.
Chairman of the monitoring committee, G Thyagrajan, said the decision to ask the ship to stay outside Indian waters was not final.
He said the information about the vessel was inadequate and therefore it was asked to stay 200 nautical miles away.
Mr Thyagrajan said: "At present, the information regarding asbestos varies from 50 tonnes to 1,000 tonnes and therefore we need more information to take a final decision.
"We cannot allow the ship to enter Indian waters because we don't have a clear picture."
The committee also felt the ship violated the Basel Convention on hazardous waste, which prevents transportation of hazardous material from one country to another.
Green groups in France and India have been protesting against the transfer.
Greenpeace India spokesman Ramapati Kumar welcomed the committee's decision.
"We also appreciate that the panel recognised that allowing the ship into Indian waters will violate the Basel convention," he told the AFP new agency.
The decommissioned carrier is headed for Alang in Gujarat.
There are fears that Alang is not equipped to handle the dismantling of such a huge ship.
But operators at the shipyard, who say dismantling the ship is a lucrative deal, believe Alang is well-equipped to handle bigger ships than the Clemenceau.
Sunil Narayan, a dismantling trader who owns a yard at Alang, said the protests were a conspiracy to destroy their business.