PM asks for status report on oil spill, foreign experts called in

ALREADY under threat by the real estate lobby, the hapless mangroves face another danger from the oil spill. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday called for a report from the shipping ministry on the incident, underlining the gravity of the situation.

   ?The prime minister has called for a preliminary report from the shipping ministry on the oil spill,? the PMO official said. The issue was also raised in the Rajya Sabha where environment minister Jairam Ramesh said legal action has been initiated against the owners of the two vessels. ?Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board has already initiated legal action against the owners of the ships,? Mr Ramesh said.

   Meanwhile, the failure of the local agencies in controlling the oil spill has forced the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) to rope in a Netherlands-based company SMIT Salvage to arrest further spread. Besides, the ministry of shipping has also deployed a team of experts from Singapore on the job. ?We have appointed SMIT Salvage to take steps to control the oil spill. The company is working there with 11 off-shore vessels, out of which six vessels they received from Mumbai-based Great Offshore Limited,? the port official said.

   The Coast Guard has also intensified its anti-pollution operation, said Directorate General of Shipping?s chief nautical advisor M M Saggi. Anti-pollution disposal spray systems have been pressed into service. All coastal districts of Maharashtra have been put on high alert as the oil slick is found inching closer to the Alibaug and Uran areas, and also close to Elephanta caves. The Coast Guards and other government agencies are worried that the oil leak may also affect the mangrove belt along the coastline .

   The government measures apart, the oil spill has threatened mangroves along a coast stretched up to Alibaug. ?We have found good quantity of fresh oil up to six inches in depth along the beaches in Sasvane, Kihim, Revas, Mandava and Alibaug along the Mumbai-Raigarh coast,? senior scientist at Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Deepak Apte told mediapersons on Monday.

   As part of the anti-oil pollution drive along the coastal regions of Maharashtra following a collision between two cargo ships off the Mumbai coast, the Indian Coast Guard had approached the BNHS on Sunday to do a survey and locate on-shore oil spills in the region and how far it has spread.

   Mr Apte, who is leading a team of scientists carrying out the survey, said fresh tar balls were found at several locations although locals claim that tar balls from oil rigs and refineries are found scattered on beaches during monsoons. More than five batches of scientists from BNHS are on the job along Chowpatty, Gorai and Malad beaches, besides backwaters along Sewri and Uran, he said.

    Saving Seas
  • Coast Guard intensifies antipollution ops

  • Oil spill threatens mangroves along a coast stretched up to Alibaug

  • MbPT ropes in a Netherlands-based co to arrest further spread. Shipping ministry deploys a team of experts from Singapore on the job

Source: The Economic Times, Delhi, Tuesday, 10th August 2010
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