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Oil spill contained; Mumbai harbour to be cleared by Aug 15: Ramesh

Last updated on: August 10, 2010 17:24 IST

Mumbai harbour, which has been affected by the recent oil spill, would be cleared for transportation by August 15, Parliament was informed on Tuesday.

"There is no oil spill off the Mumbai coast. When I contacted the Indian Coast Guard, they told me that Mumbai harbour would be cleared by August 15 and normal transportation restored," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told Lok Sabha in a suo motu statement.

He said 32 ships would be start moving by August 15. The ships were stranded due to the collision between container vessel MSC Chitra and another vessel Khalija-111.

Ramesh said, "The fishermen have already been issued advisory to avoid fishing activity till August 15 as there are still 200 containers floating on the sea water."

Though this matter comes under the purview of Shipping Ministry, Ramesh said, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has collected water samples for testing and already lodged a case under the Environment Protection Act 1986.

However, the entire salvage operation would take 45 days, he added.  

Even the Maharashtra government said the situation was completely under control as Coast Guard officials had plugged the leakages.

"The situation is under control now. I was briefed by Coast Guard officials that the leakage from where the oil was spilling out from MSC Chitra has been plugged yesterday and no further oil spill has been reported," Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said.

To a query, Chavan said it is estimated that between 400-500 metric tonnes of oil might have spilled from the vessel. He was speaking to reporters after reviewing the oil spill situation at the Coast Guard headquarters in Worli.

However, the chemical dispersion exercise is underway, he said, adding, the experts from a Singapore firm, who arrived here, have started their operations related to the oil spill.

"The exercise to remove the remaining oil from MSC Chitra will be initiated by respective agencies from August 13," Chavan said.

Two Panamanian cargo ships-- MSC Chitra and Merchant Vessel Khalija--had collided off the Mumbai coast on August 7, causing an oil-spill from one of the vessels.

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