Polluter will pay for Mumbai oil spill: Ramesh

The government Tuesday made it clear that `polluter must pay` for the environmental and maritime losses arising out of the collision of the two ships off Mumbai coast early this month.

Updated: Aug 17, 2010, 14:44 PM IST

New Delhi: The government Tuesday made it clear
that `polluter must pay` for the environmental and maritime
losses arising out of the collision of the two ships off
Mumbai coast early this month.

"Polluter must pay and polluter will pay," Environment
Minister Jairam Ramesh told the Rajya Sabha in reply to a
short duration question on the oil spill resulting from the
collision of vessels on August 7.

He said studies by different institutions have been
commissioned for ascertaining the impact of the oil spill on
the fishery sector and other economic losses.

Ramesh said the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has
asked the National Institute of Oceanography and the National
Environment Engineering Research Institute to carry out
comprehensive environmental impact assessment studies. A
separate study has been commissioned to know the oil spill
impact on fishery sector.

The studies which would form the basis for assessing the
compensation were expected in about a month`s time. However,
he insisted that it would be the polluter who would pay the
damages.

Asked by Bharatkumar Raut (Shiv Sena) whether it would be
safe for Mumbaikers to eat fish, Ramesh said he cannot testify
at this moment if it was safe to eat fish caught in the Mumbai
coast.

"It is safe to eat fish in Mumbai as long as it is not
caught in polluted area," he said, adding that fish was being
brought to the city from other states.

He said that the ban on fishing in the area imposed till
August 15 was not after the collision but because of the
monsoon.

To a question whether the government would seek
compensation under an international convention, the minister
said since India was not a signatory to the Bunkers
Convention, such a recourse was not available. However,
expeditious efforts were being made to become a party to the
convention.

It was essential for the country to be a member of the
Bunkers Convention for claiming damages since the ships which
met with an accident were only dry vessels and not tankers, he
said.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy (BJP) asked whether there was any
designated agency which would seek compensation from the
polluter. He cited the recent example of US making British
Petroleum pay up USD 20 billion (Rs 90,000 crore) for the
oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico whereas the insurance was only
USD 460 million.

PTI