Beaches badly hit by oil spill — environmentalists
Fish samples found contaminated
1By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent
2Published: 00:00 August 13, 2010
Mumbai: Saturday's oil spill near Mumbai has left the district's beaches, particularly from Mandwa to Sasavne, on the Arabian Sea in a pathetically polluted condition, say environmentalists.
Two ships collided in the sea off Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Mumbai Port Trust causing one of the vessels, MSC Chitra to tilt and leak more than 500 tonnes of oil.
While the spill is most noticeable in Colaba in south Mumbai and on the eastern shores of the island city as in Sewri and Trombay where the Bhabaha Atomic Research Centre is located and in Vashi, Navi Mumbai, the disastrous environmental impact can be seen in Alibag, Kihim, Mandwa and Sasavne, says Deepak Apte, marine biologist, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
"We are here for an ecological assessment and the situation is pretty bad," Apte told Gulf News on the telephone from Sasavne. Beaches are covered with oil patches, up to the high tide line with the oil already having seeped down into the sand. The BNHS team is collecting sand samples to carry out a systematic analysis — a scientific count of flora and fauna, and measure it over a period of time.
"We have not seen any dead fish being washed ashore but have come across sea anemones covered with oil," he said.
"Since the monsoon is the period for spawning, we fear juvenile fish could be killed in deep seas due to the oil spill and a whole generation destroyed. This will have a long-term impact," he says.
Environmentalists are also worried about the oil slick entering the sensitive mangrove belt in Vashi. Sumaira Abdulali of the Awaaz Foundation, said: "Every monsoon, I have observed oil being washed ashore and no authority has cared to start a clean-up. This worst-ever oil spill in the Arabian Sea has brought the focus on cleaning up the beaches."
Meanwhile, about 500kg of fish samples from Sasoon Dock, Sewri and Bhaucha Dhakka were prima facie found contaminated, said the commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Further sample testing is being undertaken. The State Fisheries Department has also been directed by the state government to carry out random samples at various locations.
Coast Guard (CG) Commandant, S.S. Dasila told Gulf News the local district administration had been given directives by the government to undertake a shore clean-up with the help of Home Guards, students and other volunteers.
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