Large quantities of oil washed along one-and-a-half kilometre stretch of Girgaum Chowpatty on Monday has raised fears of a spill in the Arabian sea off city’s coast.
A city-based marine conservationist, Pradip Patade, filed a complaint with the solid waste management (SWM) department of the civic body to draw its attention to the damage the spill could cause on the marine ecosystem.
“The coastline along the beach has turned black after the oil mixed with the sand. Also, there is a large amount of plastic strewn along the beach,” said Patade, who has documented over 250 marine species along the south Mumbai coastline. “The oil is toxic for big fish and also prevents the oxygen flow towards the seabed, which comprises algae, sponges and corals. There are high chances of marine mammals getting affected as well.”
Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) officials said that the oil may have washed ashore owing to a spill or is being pumped out by larger ships moving near the Persian Gulf. “While incidents like this are not common, there have been instances in the past where oil sediments have been spotted along Juhu beach that are brought in by the clockwise current and wind direction from the deep sea,” said a senior officer from MbPT’s pollution abatement department. “We are currently investigating the matter with the Coast Guard and trying to trace the source of this problem.”
Speaking to HT, officers from SWM department said they have taken cognisance of the matter. “These are confirmed traces of crude oil from larger ships offshore that have got deposited along the chowpatty due to tidal action. We have spoken to our disaster control department and will be chalking out a plan, along with the Coast Guard, to trace the source and remove the pollutants from the beach and the seabed,” said Ranjan Bagwe, assistant engineer, SWM.
Meanwhile, Coast Guards said there were no reports of oil spills along the state’s coastline that could have led to the deposition at Girgaum.
Commenting on the spill, Dr Baban Ingole, chief scientist and professor, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), said, “The effects of oil sediments along the coastline are disastrous for the beach and the marine biodiversity. While the short-term effects might include the change in colour of the beach, death of fish and mammals closer to the shore, long-term effects can be blockage of the oxygen flow to the entire marine ecosystem in the area.”
He added that the state government, pollution control bodies and Coast Guard needs to trace the source of the spill at the earliest before the problem aggravates. “Large vessels, about 100 nautical miles away from the shore, could be the source for this spill,” he said.