It looks like clearing the oil spilt following the collision of two ships will be tougher than clearing the sea of the spilt containers.
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) is struggling to clean the shores, from Colaba to Marine Drive to Navi Mumbai and Alibaug, which are layered with fuel oil spilt from the fuel tank of cargo vessel MSC after the collision.
The MPCB has asked local administrations and district authorities across the state to undertake cleaning operations in their jurisdiction, but lack of equipment and expertise are affecting operations.
At Elephanta Island, attempts to conduct manual clean-up operations failed on Wednesday. B.D. Wadde, regional officer, South Mumbai, MPCB, said: “The area near the mangroves is very marshy and there is no approach road. Cleaning the mangroves will be challenging.”
The coastline, the rocks and the mangroves will have to be cleaned using a water jet, he added.
Officials said they managed to complete cleaning the shoreline adjoining the Geeta Nagar slums in Colaba on Thursday. “The operations were done along with civic labourers. There is a film of oil on the rocks that will be removed soon,” said an MPCB official.
Subhash Sonawane, Collector of Raigad district, work on cleaning the coastline began on Thursday.
The MPCB on Thursday sent notices to the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) and the Directorate of Shipping (DGS) asking them to conduct offshore cleaning operations. While the MbPT must monitor and clean the ports and the oil spill in the sea, the DGS must collect all the containers, the notice said.
“We have written to the MbPT and DGS to undertake cleaning operations in their jurisdictions. The local authorities and the district administration along with the MPCB will look at cleaning the coastline,” said Dr Y.B. Sontake, regional officer (headquarters), MPCB.
Meanwhile, a team of senior scientists from Indian Oil and TERI, who jointly developed an indigenous technology for speedy and effective disposal of oil sludge and spills, has reached Mumbai on Thursday. The team will help the MPCB assess the extent of spillage and plan remedial action.
“The National Institute of Oceanography and NEERI will prepare an environmental impact assessment report in about three months,” said MPCB member secretary Radheshyam Mopalwar.
He said it would be difficult to say when the operations will get over. “We are conducting mopping operations at the shores of Vashi, Uran, Mandva and now even Bandra,” Mopalwar added.
(Inputs by Sayli Udas Mankikar)