Mumbai oil spill clean up may take 45 days: Ramesh

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday said that Mumbai oil spill clean up may take 45 days.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday said that the situation arising out of the oil spill following collision of two cargo vessels off Mumbai sea coast is completely under control.

Making a Suo Moto statement in the Rajya Sabha, Ramesh said, “I would like to assure the honourable members of this august House that the oil pill has stopped completely. There are about 200 containers, which are still floating over the sea but no fresh spillage has been reported by the Indian Coast Guard overseeing the clean up operation.”

The minister made the statement a day after Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh sought a report over oil spill off Mumbai sea coast from the Ministry of Shipping and other agencies involved in the cleaning up of the thick layer of spillage, which has spread up to five nautical miles.

However, the Environment Minister stated that the clean-up operation will take at least 45 days.

“Efforts are on to clear the oil spill. However, the entire salvage is expected to take at least 45 days. The entire operation is being conducted under the supervision of the Indian Coast Guard in co-ordination with other agencies including Maharashtra State Environment Board, Shipping Ministry etc.”

Ramesh continued by saying, “The Indian Coast Guard, which is the supreme authority tackling the marine pollution, has also drafted a National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan to meet such eventualities in future.”

"Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board has already initiated legal action against the owners of the ships," Ramesh said.

Elaborating on the progress of the clean up operation, Ramesh said, ”There are about 32 ships either waiting to enter the Mumbai harbour. I would like to assure you all that the entire harbour will be cleared by Aug 15 and open for normal traffic.”

Assuring the Rajya Sabha MPs over the safety of livelihood of the fishermen community, Ramesh said, “The government has issued advisory to the fishermen not to venture out into the sea till Sunday (Aug 15) as the Mumbai harbour will be cleared by then.”
The minister also assured the Upper House about the steps initiated by the government towards the protection of the Mangroves area.

Two Panamanian cargo ships -- MSC Chitra and Merchant Vessel Khalija -- collided off the Mumbai coast causing an oil-spill from one of the vessels.
Earlier, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said the Coast Guard officials have plugged the leakages.

"The situation is under control now. I was briefed by the Coast Guard officials that the leakage from where the oil was spilling out from MSC Chitra has been plugged yesterday and no further oil spill has been reported," Chavan said.

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