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Jairam wants shipping cos to pay for oill spill
Published on 15 Aug. 2010 11:28 PM IST
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The Mumbai oil spill has severely damaged the fragile mangrove forests, which are critical to the ecosystem. Even as MSC Chitra continues to tilt unsteadily and choppy waters hamper Coast Guard’s attempts to stabilise her, the Government is mincing no words in calling the oil spill one of the worst environmental disasters India has seen.
Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh came down heavily on the city’s ports, saying they should have been better prepared, and that polluters would have to pay for the damage.
“There has been extensive substantial damage to marine ecosystems around 100 km of coastline. Both ports should have been better prepared. The polluters would not be allowed to get away without paying compensation,” said Ramesh in Mumbai on Saturday.
Even as the Minister said the response to the spill was inadequate, authorities in charge of ports insisted there was nothing lacking in their response.
“Our response was within the limits of what it should have been,” said Mumbai Port Trust Chairman Rahul Asthana.
The Minister also defended his decision to stall the much-awaited second city airport. He said the new site suffers major environmental problems, including diverting a river which could lead to flooding in the region.
“We cannot ignore environmental considerations. Environmental approval is not a formality,” he said.
The Minister’s visit has once again put the spotlight on environmental concerns plaguing both air and sea transport in the city. The question is: Is the state administration ignoring the environment as it struggles to make place for infrastructure development?

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