INDIA. Mumbai: The fishermen from Satpati in Palghar district in Maharashtra have complained of oil spillage from the barge GAL Constructor that ran aground at Vadrai, during recent cyclone Tauktae, which battered Maharashtra and adjoining states.
The Maharashtra Machhimar Kruti Samiti (MMKS) in a letter to the local port officer and Satpati police has complained that the seepage of oil from the barge has been badly impacting the fish cache, which is having a kerosene-like odour. This has affected the sale of fish and the consumption of such fish can harm consumers’ health.
MMKS (Palghar) President Manvendra Arekar in a letter to the local port officer and Satpati Police, has pointed out that the barge ran aground on May 18 and the crew stranded on board was rescued by the Indian Navy soon thereafter. However now even after 11 days, the barge remains at same place and has been polluting the sea, since nearly 80,000 liters of diesel is stored on the barge. Unless it is pumped out and transferred to another tanker quickly, it will continue to pollute the area and will affect the seawater right up to Dahanu. The delayed cleaning work has been badly affecting the fishing activities. If the area is not cleared within the next three days, the fishermen will resort to agitation, Arekar warned.
A spokesman for Satpati police said that MMKS has complained of the oil spillage. Right now the salvage operations are going on and various other equipments are being off-loaded from the ship.
Indian Navy clarifies
Whereas Indian Navy spokesman Commander Mehul Karnik said that “ the Accommodation Barge Gal Constructor is carrying approx 78 kL of (High flash high-speed diesel (HFHSD). No crude oil is carried onboard. No breach of the oil tank onboard was reported. Firm M/s AFCONS has arranged M/s Seacare which has laid 400 m boom around the barge.
Further, 02 fuel barges are being hired for the removal of oil. M/s Shree Krishna is undertaking hull repairs. M/s Smith & Coy has been hired for the removal of oil from the vessel. An Indian Coast Guard helicopter has reported silvery oil sheen of width 50m”.
“No oil spill has been reported onshore as of now and continuous liaison is being maintained with an agent of Gal Constructor. The onboard team is having sorbent pads that have been laid along with the boom. The same will be recovered along with bilge oil with the help of fishing boats which are being arranged from fishermen’ association. Coast Guard is closely monitoring the situation and the District Administration has been alerted for immediate clean-up, if any oil reaches ashore”.
In another development, the National Fishworkers Forum President Narendra Patil and MMKS office bearers Kiran Koli, Leo Colaso, and Ramkrishan Tandel have demanded that the fishermen in Maharashtra be given compensation of at least Rs 250 crore since over 100 fishing boats have been damaged in the cyclone. The Maharashtra Government has announced a compensation of hardly Rs 25000 to Rs 50,000 per boat whereas a boat costs anything between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh depending upon its size. Or else the government should make available the loans available to fishermen at very nominal interest so that they could normalise their activities.
Shiv Sena MP comes forward to help fishermen
To mitigate fishermen’s sufferings, the Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai South constituency Arvind Sawant has urged the Union Government to waive the loans obtained by fishermen from the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) since they have suffered losses due to ongoing pandemic induced lockdown and the cyclones-Nisarg (2020) and Tauktae (2021).
Sawant in a letter dated May 24, to the Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development Giriraj Singh, has pointed out that 14 percent interest is charged to the fishermen, who have secured a loan of Rs 40 lakh to Rs 50 lakh to purchase the boats. The fishing season is hardly about 7-8 months in a year since fishing is banned in the rainy season. Besides, as per weather warnings from time to time, they have to restrict their fishing activities and in the lockdown, their business has been severely affected. The fishing industry is in bad shape. As such the facility of loan waivers be given to fishermen like the farm loans were waived to give relief to the debt-ridden farmers.
Killers Annual Awards function 2020-2021
In the meanwhile, the ships of the 22 and Missile Vessel Squadron, the current Avataar of the Missile Boats that caused havoc in Karachi in Dec 1971, had their Annual Awards ceremony at the Mumbai Dockyard on Saturday.
Aptly called by the epithet ‘Killers’, these sleek and swift ships are the first to go into harm’s way and are the ‘First Strike’ elements of the Indian Navy. They live by the singular aim and motto of ‘Hit first and Hit hard’. The Navy Day is celebrated on Dec 04 every year to commemorate the heroic acts of these very Bravehearts.
On the occasion Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command gave away the trophies to the deserving ships which are based in Mumbai under Rear Adm Atul Anand, Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra Naval Area. Himself a ‘Killer’, the Commander-in-Chief exhorted the ships to keep their powder dry and be ready to strike fear amidst the enemy when called upon to do so, in pursuance of the rich legacy that the ‘Killers’ have inherited from their glorious predecessors.