Mumbai Oil Spill Damage is Yet to be Determined

Two weeks ago, a cargo vessel, M V Rak, carrying about 290 tonnes of furnace oil (much more worse than crude oil), 50 tonnes of fuel oil, and 60,000 tonnes of coal sunk about 25 nautical miles from the Mumbai coast. The state government’s environment body, MPCB, has taken water samples from various places including the Mahalaxmi Temple, Juhu Beach, and INS Kunjali, and they have contained the oil.

coast of mumbai
Chowpatty beach on Mumbai coastline, shot from Malabar Hill.

According to the coast guard there, the estimated quantity of oil that leaked out from the sunken vessel could be around 150 metric tonnes. Spraying of oil spill dispersants in the affected areas is being carried out. This oil and coal spill came just a week after another ship, MT Pavit, carrying 30 tonnes of oil sank in the sea.

Environmentalists say if this oil enters the creek, it will affect the mangroove ecosystem considerably.

“The algae imbibe the oil and that may affect the entire marine ecology,” said Swapna Prabhu, from Bombay Natural History Society. Thousands of fishermen and their family who lives near the Mumbai sea line are also badly affected due to the restriction of fishing in oil-affected areas.

More Mumbai Oil Spills

Last year, two ships, MSC Chitra and MV Khalija, collided off the Mumbai coast, and the oil spill spread not just to the coast of Mumbai, but as far as Raigad and Elephanta, damaging the mangrove belt in and around Mumbai city, contaminating shores, and even threatening fishing activity.

Earlier this year, in January, there was yet another oil spill near the Mumbai coastline when the oil pipeline of Indian oil and gas giant ONGC burst, leaking 30,000 barrels of crude in the Arabian sea.

The MPCB and the state government are optimistic in terms of damage done to the surrounding ecosystem and about the aftermath. However, it remains to be seen how much damage these multiple oil spills in recent weeks in Mumbai has done to the environment.

Photo of Mumbai coastline via owenstache

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