Corpus fund likely for oil clean-up
Union Minister for Environment & Forests Jayanti Natarajan has suggested setting up a corpus fund to mount clean-up operations in the wake of oil slicks caused by ships breaking down off the Indian waters.
Speaking to newspersons here on Wednesday, Jayanti Natarajan said the Maharashtra pollution control board brings vital experience to the table as it had handled multiple oil slicks in 2010.
“The corpus fund is a good idea. The Maharashtra model will be studied further and corpus size and the pattern of funding will be finalised after holding consultations with stakeholders and discussing the matter with the prime minister,” she said.
With increasing leakages due to ship breakdowns and from oil pipes in the west coast, the minister held a meeting with senior officers of the Ministry of Environment & Forest, Department of Environment, Government of Maharashtra, DG Shipping, Mumbai Port Trust and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Indian Coast Guards, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and ONGC. The minister also held wide-ranging consultations and reviewed the status of present safety systems adopted by agencies concerned.
The minister said the “singular lack of clarity” among officials of various departments, came up as a major issue during the meeting.“A corpus fund would come in handy under such circumstances and the cleaning up operation could begin immediately, thereby limiting damage to the environment. The outgo from the fund would be reimbursed once the compensation liability is established and claims settled,” she said.On the issue of ships being stranded in high seas in the Indian peninsula, Natarajan said 40 vessels were stranded at different places, but that there is no immediate danger from them.
She said the Shipping Authorities have been monitoring the entry and exit of each vessel in Indian waters by following well laid out guidelines. The minister insisted for strong environmental laws to deal with vessels that damage India’s fragile coastal eco-system.
Jayanti also asked the Central and State Pollution Control Boards to inspect pipeline networks at major ports and identify weaker areas needing replacement or upgrades.