Oil discharge pollutes Goan coastline

| 14 May 2001 22:54 IST

Oil ships passing off Goa coast from the Middle East to the Far East have posed a serious threat of marine pollution along the Goan coastline, affecting the tourism industry here.

Thanks to the blatant violation of MARPOL guidelines by the oil tankers, the famous beaches of Calangute, Candolim, Baga etc have literally turned black with tar balls spread all over the coastline.

The study carried out by the Goa Environment and Ecology Trust reveals that the merchant tankers sailing at a distance of around 150 nautical miles from the western coast have been discharging unpumpable heavy sediments of oil settled at the bottom of the cargo tanks, exploiting Arabian sea as the dumping ground.

While this oil gets of a form of globules once it mixes with the sand, it moves to the shore with southwest pre-monsoon and monsoon winds start blowing from March till September.

Discharging oil near the shore at night time in violation of international norms is a world phenomena today. But it may be more visible on Goan coast this year, feel marine scientists, due to the 'River Princess' ship, grounded hardly 50 metres away from the Candolim coast, which also had an oil spill.

"It is mainly due to these vessels who violate the MARPOL guidelines", states Joaquim R D'Souza, the marine scientist and project co-ordinator for the GEET. He blames the authorities for not making a legislation to implement strict guidelines of the International Maritime Organisation, to penalise and prosecute the violators.

Besides affecting the fish, Dr Joe D'Souza, an environmentalist, says that these pollutants can cause skin infection, eye irritation and diseases like dysentery, stomach problems and even cancer due to Benzopyrenes released from this oil.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar, after inspecting the site personally last week, has ordered physical cleaning of the beaches in order to avoid the next immediate threat of the tar balls going back to the sea.

D'Souza however suggests more effective remedies, including strict vigil by the Coast Guard, random inspection of oil record books by the Port State Control Inspectors, co-ordinating such checks with other Asian countries as well as satellite surveillance.

In addition, the GEET has also written to Dr R A Mashelkar, the renowned scientist heading Goa's Infotech Council, suggesting hydro-carbon finger printing technology as it can identify which vessel has released the oil near the seashore.

"The only solution to it is to etiquette the people by creating awareness", states Cmdt. V S R Murthy, the Coast Guard commandant, though he does not deny that rules and modern technology cannot control it. "But that is not an ultimate solution", he feels.

While etiquetting people requires a world-wide movement to save the marine life and tourist states like Goa, the local authorities are presently not doing anything more than cleaning up the beaches.

Incidentally, Goa plans to sell rain drops to the Gulf countries during the monsoons, while the oil from their place is the only hazard the tourist state is facing today !

Drop a comment

Enter The Code Displayed hereRefresh Image


Environment