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Cyclone-hit barge Gal Constructor spills diesel into Arabian Sea

Barge Gal Constructor, which for stuck on the rocky ridges at Vadrai coast, Palghar due to Cyclone Tauktae, has started to spill around 80,000 litres of diesel and lube, grease and other liquids into the sea
By Ram Parmar, Palghar
PUBLISHED ON MAY 30, 2021 12:47 AM IST

Barge Gal Constructor, which for stuck on the rocky ridges at Vadrai coast, Palghar due to Cyclone Tauktae, has started to spill around 80,000 litres of diesel and lube, grease and other liquids into the sea. Fishermen from the area said a layer of fuel has formed over the water, making it difficult for them to fish.

Contractors of the barge, which had 137 crew members onboard when it was stuck in the Arabia Sea amid the cyclone, have arrived at the spot and are making attempts to contain the spillage.

The Coast Guard, in a statement, said that two fuel barges are being used to remove the oil and repairs to the hull is on.

The barge, which was on ONGC duty, drifted to Vadrai coast on May 17 after it lost power. The Coast Guard with the help of three Chetak choppers and ship rescued all 137 crew members but the barge is still stuck at the coast, jeopardising the environment and leading to marine pollution.

Manendra Arekar, chairman of Vadrai Machimar Sarvodaya Society, complained to Palghar port officer about the dangers of marine pollution due to the spillage.

“Due to the oil spillage, the entire Vadrai, Satpati coast area is reeking of fuel, oil and chemicals, and as a result fishing is impossible. A thin layer of fuel is formed, leading to harm to marine lives,” said Arekar, adding, “We have appealed to the port officer to take remedial action to prevent more damage to the coast and the environment.”

Poornima Meher, a fishermen leader, said the barge should be removed from the spot immediately before the onset of monsoon and that the spillage be controlled. “The fuel and oil load should be emptied on an emergency level, or else we will protest at the spot as 12 days have passed since the spillage,” Meher said.

Assistant inspector Sudhir Dhayarkar of Satpati coastal police station said contractors and owners of the barge approached the police seeking security at the spot as the team are at the location to contain the spillage. “They are using boom, a big ring surrounding the barge, which will soak up the oil and fuel spillage,” said the official.

“It is a time consuming process and we have not been informed as to when the fuel and oil will be emptied as the hull of the barge has formed cracks in some areas, resulting in the spillage. The process could take months,” said Dhayarkar. He further added that locals visiting the barge during low tide made the job difficult.

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