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NGO wants oil spills on Maharashtra coast probed
Mumbai, Aug 23 (IANS):
Published on 23 Aug. 2010 11:03 PM IST
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The Awaaz Foundation, a prominent NGO working in the area of pollution, Monday demanded a full-fledged inquiry into the number and extent of oil spills along the Maharashtra coast in the past few years.
The issue has suddenly come to the limelight after the recent oil spill following collision of two foreign ships Aug 7, Awaaz Foundation chief Sumaira Abdulali said in a letter to union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh. Abdulali said Mumbaikars were heartened by Jairam Ramesh’s concern to protect the coastal environment by personally inspecting the sites affected by the recent oil spill.
“However, there have been many such big and small oil spills in the past in the state’s coastal areas but little has been done to tackle them or even clean them up,” Abdulali said. She pointed out that under MARPOL, an international protocol governing pollution of coastal waters to which India is a signatory, the port trusts and Directorate-General of Shipping have certain obligations, including preventive measures, while the ministry and Coast Guard are vested with monitoring responsibilities under Indian laws.
Expressing the hope that the related agencies may have documented some of these recurring oil spills independently as part of their duties, the Awaaz Foundation has sought a full-fledged inquiry into the number of such instances, the extent of oil spills and the responses of the agencies.
She said this was imperative since oil spills appear to be happening at regular intervals over several years, adversely affecting marine and coastal environment.
“I do hope that now, with your intervention, this situation is set to change,” Abdulali said.
The issue of oil spills came to the fore after two foreign ships -- Panama’s MSC Chitra and St. Kitt’s MV Khalijia-III -- collided Aug 7 near Mumbai harbour, spilling oil, chemicals and other pollutants.
The collision also severely hit maritime trade and traffic with over 200 containers falling and floating or sinking in the Arabian Sea and rendering the main navigation channel unsafe for vessels.

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