Following the HT report on puddles of thick black oil littering the beach at Gorai, the zonal deputy commissioner of police (DCP) on Monday began an inquiry to find the source of the pollutant, amid speculation of a possible oil spill off the coast.
“As part of the inquiry, we are first writing to the authorities concerned to submit reports on the origin of the spill,” Mahesh Patil, DCP, zone 11, told HT on Monday. Patil said that letters were being sent to the coast guard (CG), the Maharashtra maritime board, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Sagri police station to investigate the matter and submit reports immediately.
“The agencies will use scientific and investigative methods to trace the source. Based on the findings, we will register a case and initiate action against those responsible,” he said.
Following the HT report, Patil had asked officers from the Gorai police station to make an on-spot inquiry. The policemen confirmed the littering of the beach by thick, muddy oil residue. Patil also spoke to fishermen in the area to assess the situation.
Locals said that the oil on the beach affected their daily routine, as they extensively use the beach route for business and to commute from one village to another. Moreover, they said it was difficult to remove the oil stains from clothes and the residue also caused skin irritation if they came into contact with it.
Shankar Gajbhiye, chief scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography, had said that according to international conventions, merchant vessels were not allowed to wash residual material from oil tankers at ports. “But there are instances when residual crude oil is cleaned off after crossing international maritime borders. This crude oil gets washed off onto the coast in lumps. Although one-third of this vapourises, a third can affect inter-tidal marine flora and fauna, while the rest is non-soluble. Other possibilities such as leaks from ships or oil rigs will also have to be investigated,” Gajbhiye said.