40 vessels stranded off Indian coast, says Natarajan
About 40 vessels are apparently stranded off Indian coasts, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said here today.
"But the matter is under control. We have a strict regime, we, the ministry of shipping...and if that doesn't work, we will invoke the Environment Protection Act," Natarajan told reporters here.
"Ministry of shipping and coast guard ensures that no vessel enters the Indian territory. It is ensured that they have proper insurance cover, particularly if they are of a certain age," Natarajan said.
All posts have the machinery to ensure that the radioactive material does not enter our territory. And that equipment is functioning very well, she said.
If it sometimes escapes, the ports have the procedure to deal with and dispose it in a safe way, she added.
"There is a need to make sure there is a corpus and that we have the forecasting systems for future oil spills in place," she said.
"We need to establish a common corpus between the ministry of shipping, the coast guard and the environment authorities so that we don't wait for money. We cannot wait until the claim process is complete to start salvage operations," the minister said.
It is important for the government to maintain a corpus, a fund where immediately salvage operations can begin.
"I specifically requested information about two ships which are currently two miles and 10 miles away from Mumbai coastline. I have been assured that the matter is within hand and that there is not too much petroleum on board the ships," she said.
The ministry of shipping has ensured that with their own barges and equipment, the ships are kept stable and operational and now the new owners will take responsibility, she said.