The city’s two ports, which were forced to stop operations for five days following the oil spill, reopened on Thursday, with the Navy escorting 19 ships in and out of the channel.
Mumbaiites, who were facing the threat of fuel shortage owing to the closure of the ports, can now stop worrying. “With the ports reopening, oil and fertiliser ships will be let in on priority. We also have sufficient crude oil being pumped out at Bombay High,” said Murli Deora, union minister of petroleum.
“The operations were done on a war-footing to ensure that the channel would start functioning partially at least,” said Union Shipping Minister G.K. Wasan.
While salvage operations to locate and tow away the 350 containers that spilt into the sea on Saturday after the two ships collided continue, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) is struggling with clean-up operations along the coast.
The shores, from Colaba to Marine Drive to Navi Mumbai and Alibaug, are layered with fuel oil, which spilt from the fuel tank of cargo vessel MSC Chitra after the collision.
The MPCB has asked local authorities to undertake cleaning operations in their jurisdiction, but lack of equipment and expertise have stalled operations at the Elephanta Island, where attempts were made to clean the coast manually.