Manmohan Singh seeks report on Mumbai oil spill

Written by: Nairita Das
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New Delhi, Aug.9 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has reportedly called for a report from the Shipping Ministry on the oil spill incident that occurred after collision of two cargo ships off Mumbai coast.

Two Panamanian cargo ships - MSC Chitra and Merchant Vessel Khalija - collided off the Mumbai coast causing an oil-spill from one of the vessels.

"The Prime Minister has called for a preliminary report from the Shipping Ministry on the oil spill," Prime Minister Office sources said.

Besides, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, in reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, said legal action has been initiated against owners of the two vessels.

"Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board has already initiated legal action against the owners of the ships," the Minister stated.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy and Coast Guard are making efforts to contain the oil leak. On Monday, the third day of the incident, the oil spill was spreading fast and thick.

"Six ships and a helicopter with anti pollution disposal spray systems have been put on the job to contain the oil spill," said a Coast Guard official on Monday morning.

"Fishing associations have been also requested not to carry out any fishing activities till the oil spill is contained," he added.

It has been reported that traffic at the harbour has been partially suspended as a precaution following the fall of around 200 oil containers from the MSC Chitra, an outbound merchant vessel from Navi Mumbai, after a collision with another vessel, the MV Khalijia-III on Saturday.

"MSC Chitra has tilted 80 degrees and the total oil spill is nearly 50 tonnes. So far, 300 containers carrying oil have tumbled into the water," said Arun Singh, Commandant (Operations), Coast Guard.

Moreover, there were reports that a high-level meeting has been called to assess the situation and discuss the steps that should be taken to bring the situation under control.

Officials of Maharashtra Government Environment Department, National Disaster Response Force, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, Shipping Department, Mumbai Port Trust and other concerned agencies are expected to attend the meeting.

The Directorate General of Shipping has initiated an investigation into the incident.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan expressing concern over the issue said all efforts were being made to contain the leak.

"This is a serious issue. We have already filed cases against the Captains of the two ships, which are from abroad. Today, I am going to have an aerial look at the accident site. We are trying to contain the leak as far as possible," he added.

Mumbai Port Trust chairman Rahul Asthana, however, said the spill was not major, but admitted that the position of the MSC Chitra was 'dangerous'. (ANI)

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