The Centre on Tuesday said the polluter would have to pay for the environment and maritime losses caused by the collision of the two ships off the Mumbai coast on August 7.
“The polluter must pay and polluter will pay,” Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh informed the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour.
Ramesh said studies by different institutions have been commissioned for ascertaining the impact of the oil spill on the fishery sector and other economic losses.
Asked whether it would be safe for Mumbaiites to eat fish, the minister said he cannot testify at this moment if it was safe.
“I cannot give a point-blank answer to a point-blank question that whether it is safe to eat fish. Of course, it is safe to eat fish in Mumbai as long as it is not caught from the polluted area,” he said.
Ramesh said there has been a substantial impact on fish population in and around the area. “The fish population in many parts has been decimated; it has been damaged. However, fish has now started coming into Mumbai from other parts of the country, like Andhra Pradesh.”
When asked if the government would seek compensation under an international convention, Ramesh said since India was not a signatory to the Bunkers Convention, such a recourse was not available. However, efforts were being made to become a party to the convention.
It was essential for the country to be a member of the Bunkers Convention for claiming damages since the ships which met with an accident were dry vessels and not tankers, he added.