Three new sites in Mumbai and Thane were found to have been affected by the oil spill, pollution control board authorities reported on Friday.
Even as state authorities struggled with cleaning operations at the existing sites, significant oil presence was noted at INS Kunjali, a naval air base in Navy Nagar at Colaba, near US club at Colaba and at Kalwa near Thane. Authorities said mangroves have been affected in Kalwa.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh will visit the affected sites, including Elephanta island and INS Kunjali, on Saturday. He will also take review meetings to address pollution mitigation measures.
The Environment department got its act together for cleaning operations on Friday with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board releasing up to Rs 65 lakh as preliminary funds for the cleaning drive to local authorities in Navi Mumbai, Raigad and Mumbai. The body had complained that the government was yet to approve funds for the job.
State Environment Minister Suresh Shetty also met environment experts and oil companies, including international expert Andrew Tucker from the International Tanker Owners' Pollution Federation, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to chalk out strategies for cleaning at different sites. Until now, cleaning was done manually and that too with basic equipment like gunny bags and plastic brooms. Environmentalists had complained that no cleaning work had begun in earnest.
"IOC has offered to give us their indigenous bio-remediation technology for speedy and effective disposal of oil sludge and spills free of cost. We will be using this on the beaches affected by the spill," said Environment Secretary, Valsa Nair Singh. This technique makes use of microorganisms that consume the oil contaminants.
Beaches will also be cleaned manually and with vacuums that will remove oil and water, while rocky sites will be flushed with hot water jets. The authorities are yet to decide on how the mangroves will be saved although the measures are likely to be a mix of manual cleaning and bio-remediation. On the second day of re-opening the navigation channel, a convoy of 10 ships, was piloted out of the Mumbai Port Trust and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust.