Exactly 13 days after two ships collided and spilled oil and pollutants, various official rescue authorities on Friday launched the clean-up operations in and around Mumbai harbour, officials said.
Of the 10 shore locations where oil patches have been found, clean-up operations have been taken up, while a group of 400 National Cadet Corps volunteers will assist the agencies in the effort on Saturday.
These include the areas around the Elephanta Island which houses the world heritage site Elephanta Caves, the Navy Nagar area of Colaba, Nhava Island and Awas Beach, an official of the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) said.
Besides, there are five other areas requiring medium priority attention where the action plan includes pressure washing and natural cleansing.
In at least 10 other sites, natural cleaning by the sea waves has already cleared the area of the pollutants and would not require manual cleaning.
A team of international salvagers have also managed to board the beleaguered Panamanian cargo carrier MSC Chitra and started pumping ballast water in its tanks to stabilise the vessel.
The entire effort would take another couple of days or so, the DGS official said.
A team of experts from the United Phosphorus has arrived to assist the ship's managers in disposing of canisters containing dangerous pesticides which were found floating around Elephanta Island and Alibaug in the adjacent Raigad district.
The DGS said all the concerned authorities, including the Maharashtra Maritime Board, are making efforts to ensure that the schedule of the Mumbai-mainland-return commercial passenger ferry services, due to start Sep 1, is maintained.
Priority routes for the ferry services are being identified and the salvagers are taking up surveys to check out any floating or sunken containers, which fell off MSC Chitra, do not pose obstacles.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy continued to escort large ships and cargo carriers in and out of the Mumbai harbour, taking the total number of vessels piloted in and out to 229 Friday.
These included 111 piloted out of two ports - Mumbai Port Trust and Jawaharlal Nehru Port - and bringing in 118 vessels, the DGS said.
However, movements of smaller bulk carriers and offshore supply vessels in and out of both the MPT and JNPT is going on without a naval escort.