Goa to wage ‘war’ against tar-balls

Goa plans to virtually wage ‘war‘ against the phenomenon of carcinogenic tar-balls, which routinely wash ashore on the state’s beaches, as well as in the North Karnataka‘s coastal areas. 

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the Goa State Environment Protection Council, Goa’s Waste Management Minister Michael Lobo said that the state government would be seeking assistance from the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard to deter ships and tankers in the international waters from dumping used oil and ballast into the seas. 

Tarballs are formed due to a reaction of dumped oil and ballast with the seawater and are later washed ashore due to tidal action. 

“We discussed the phenomenon of tar-balls surfacing on Goa’s beaches. We will raise it with the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests and seek the help of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard to tackle the menace,” Lobo told reporters on Monday, following a meeting of the Council, which was chaired by Goa Governor Satya Pal Malik. 

“The Captain of Ports alone cannot monitor this. Ships release their oil and ballast in the international waters and waste washes ashore with the tide on to the beaches,” Lobo also said. 

A decade back, studies conducted by the National Institute of Oceanography identified dumping of heavy oil and ballast by ships off Goa, as the key reason for the formation of tar-balls off the coast of Goa and North Karnataka. The dumped oil and polluting discharge undergoes a weathering process in the sea and are washed ashore with the help of the south-west monsoon swell. 

While the dumping of ballast, also called “de-ballast” while en route at sea, is a practice banned by the International Maritime Organisation, it does not deter rogue vessels from violating the norm in the Arabian sea, where environment-related enforcement is low key. 

Goa’s most popular beaches like Anjuna, Vagator, Calangute, Candolim, Benaulim suffer from the tar-ball menace, along with beaches in North Karnataka like Panambur, Sasihitlu, Mukka, etc. 

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