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AFTER THE OIL SPILL NIGHTMARE IN ARABIAN SEA, ENVIRONMENT DISASTER IS BEYOND IMAGINATION

oil--1The oil leak from the sinking cargo vessel MSC Chitra has been plugged with the Indian Coast Guard saying Operation Chitra has been successful and the ship has been stabilized. But nearly 800 tonnes of oil is already believed to have leaked out into the Arabian Sea and has been seen floating close to the coastline threatening marine life. Monika Bhosale traveled to Uran creek area and took a boat ride to Elephanta Caves to find out that the environment disaster; threat to marine life and massacre of mangroves in the creek area is beyond imagination. The aftermath disaster of the oil leak from the sinking cargo vessel MSC Chitra is beyond imagination. There are eight main fuel tanks on board the MSC Chitra ship and two of these tanks leaked tonnes of oil into the sea. Coast Guard helicopters have been spraying anti-dispersants to prevent the oil spill from spreading but much damage has already been done. This is because MSC Chitra was also carrying 1219 containers out of which 31 had hazardous chemicals like pesticides. In the last three days approximately 400 containers have slipped into the sea. The oil spill has already spread over an area of 25 square kilometers and the hazardous chemicals and pesticides are affecting about 200 species of marine life. NMTV News got first hand view of this destruction as our team traveled on a boat from Uran creeks to area around Elephanta Caves. A close look at the sea-water showed that the oil spill has caused immense pollution, so much so that fishermen who were in water helping state forces confessed that that had problems breathing after a certain time. And the scenario that we witnessed after we reached Gharapuri at Elephanta caves was worse – acres of mangroves have been destroyed and mangroves off Navi Mumbai are still in danger of being destroyed. The mangrove massacre is beyond what anyone can fathom. Locals say that the effect of pollution caused in the area is going to have effects for a long time to come. Even though the state claims that the Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board is looking into the possible oil poisoning and pollution along the coastline, one has but little trust in its functioning considering that they do nothing when on issues of pollution inside city area then doing anything concrete so far off in the creek area and sea sounds too far fetched. This was evident when we were witness to how little kids of the Uran creek area were going into the sea to fetch the items that have come out of the containers and floated towards the shores. The kids were bringing out the packets meant for export. Not just the kids but even members of the local community were going out into the creek area and fetching the packets that came floating by. Most of these packets were of tea bags and biscuits meant for export. Not knowing the dangers of the polluted water, these people were going into the creek area. Not just small packets but huge containers were also lying unattended at the shores. Only after hours of us shooting, did we spot a team. The Collector sent a team of Citizens Protection Force to clean the mess. Pandurang Makdum – Panvel Regional Officer who arrived to take stock of the situation confessed that the situation was much more grave than they anticipated. Besides this the destruction caused to environment and marine life is beyond damage control now. Experts say that people in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and nearby cities should not purchase seafood as it might have toxins and might even be poisonous. In the midst of this extreme damage to environment, the livelihood of fishermen who thrive on sale of seafood has been gravely hit. The MSC Chitra incident is like any terror attack – only this time the victims are speechless creatures of the sea and mangroves and the incident has exposed that the city does not have the expertise or techniques to deal with such accidents either. Monika Bhosale – NMTV News.

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