Two Panamanian merchant ships, MSC Chitra and MV Khalijia-III collided on 7th August, Saturday morning at the mouth of the Mumbai harbour. When the collision took place, the MSC Chitra skewed sharply under the collision resulting in an oil spill from the vessels. An environmental disaster is threatening for Mumbai coast and its surrounding coastal areas due to this ship collision.
When MSC Chitra was sailing towards Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) off Mumbai harbour for berthing, it collided with MV Khalijia-III at the harbour for over a fortnight for repair work, five nautical miles from the shores. No casualties were reported as per Indian Coast Guard (ICG) officials but authorities are closely monitoring the situation because the oil glib is spreading fast. To contain an oil spill off the Mumbai coast, hectic efforts are underway by the Indian Coast Guard.
MSC Chitra had a cargo of 1219 containers when it collided and the cargo contained 2662 tonnes of fuel, 283 tonnes of diesel and 88040 litres of lubricant oil. MV Khalijia was loaded with 30,000 tons of steel coils during collision. The container vessel MSC Chitra tilted sharply at angle of 45 Degree following the collision and so oil spill is continue to take place. The Regional Operational Centre of the Indian Coast Guard swiftly rushed its ship Kamala Devi to rescue the sailors in the affected merchant vessels on receiving an alert about the accident.
Around the coast of Mumbai, the aquatic environment is delicate and any oil spill would mean disaster to the marine life and to the fishing community. To avert oil spill, Oil and Natural Gas Commission of India and the Pollution Control Board of Maharashtra has also joined the Indian Coast Gurad in effort. MSC Chitra has already hazardously skewed by 80% and around 200 containers have been floating in a radius of 2 miles. Personals and equipment required for any clean up of the shores due to oil spill have been placed on stand by, said by authorities.
The Indian captain and 32 crew members of Chitra , including two Pakistanis, were rescued following the collision between MSC Chitra, the outbound merchant vessel from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), and MV Khalijia-III. The ship was grounded in the vicinity of the Prong Reef Lighthouse.
As the oil slick has spread to the Alibag and Uran area, and also close to Elephanta caves, all coastal districts of Maharashtra are on high alert. Concerns are that it may also affect the mangrove belt along the coastline. It will be tough to contain the oil spill because of tidal conditions as said by coast guards.
Meanwhile, speaking to NDTV Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan said, “The oil spill was a matter of concern. The forces were doing their best to control it. This is a serious issue and a matter of concern. Things are not fully contained yet. Coast guard and defence are looking into it. The state is doing its level best.”
Currently, the Mumbai Port is shut for business and fishermen have been asked not to go out. To assess the situation, the Maharashtra government is meeting with all forces involved in rescue efforts on Aug 9, today by 12 noon.
Mumbai Oil spill: MSC Chitra has poor safety record video from Youtube: