A thin layer of oil was found at Juhu beach on Sunday, three days after merchant vessel (MV) Rak sank off the coast of Mumbai on August 4.
However, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said the source of the oil found on the stretch of beach between the Asha Parekh Building and Sea Princess Hotel, is yet to be ascertained. The state pollution control body collected water samples to identify the oil content and its source. “The source will be revealed only on Monday after the laboratory results of the water samples come in,” said state environment secretary, Valsa Nair Singh.
The state government has also issued a statement asking people not to panic and termed the oil spillage as “minimal”. “On physical inspection, it has been revealed that there is furnace oil at Juhu coast. This oil content is 1 to 2mg per litre,” said Singh.
As soon as oil was spotted on the shores, visitors were evacuated from the beach for some time. “The oil on the beach is negligible,” said YB Sontake, regional officer, MPCB.
The state has also asked the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) to study if the oil spill has had any impact on marine life. Apart from the 10-member NIO team, even the Bombay Natural History Society collected water samples.
Though oil has begun leaking from MV Rak, operations are on to contain it. Scientists have ruled out any possibility of the oil reaching the Mumbai coast as; at present, the sea currents are in the south and easterly direction. “It will take about 48 hours for the oil to reach the city coast,” said SN Ghajbiye, scientist in-charge, NIO.
Meanwhile, the owner, captain and crewmembers of MV Rak, who were booked for negligence earlier, were also booked under the pollution control laws of the state. “They will be booked under provisions of the state Pollution Control Act in addition to negligence,” said Tanaji Ghadge, deputy commissioner of police (Port Zone).
(with inputs from Surabhi Vaya)