No Minister visited Karwar after the accident, says committee

CriticismPort authorities ill-equipped to meet emergency situationsPumping of oil from the wrecked ship was not done systematically

Karwar: The Uttara Kannada District Environment Protection Committee has demanded an independent report from experts on the pollution caused by the wrecked ship near here.

Committee president Ananth Hegde said here on Tuesday that the Central Pollution Control Board should depute a team of experts to look into the situation. The Government should invite experts from the National Institute of Oceanography to prepare a report on the pollution caused by the oil that leaked from the ship. He alleged that the Government had not understood the gravity of the situation. Beaches were polluted and marine life was bound to be affected. He said that no Minister, including the district in-charge Minister, had visited Karwar after the incident. He said the accident off the Karwar coast revealed that the Karwar port authorities were ill-equipped to meet emergency situations. Karwar had become a very sensitive area with a naval base and the Kaiga Nuclear power plant in its vicinity.

In view of this, the Government should make all arrangements to tackle emergency situations. The Chief Minister should convene a meeting of officials concerned and experts immediately for this purpose. There should be coordination among the district administration, the port authorities, the Coast Guard, the Pollution Control Board and the Karwar naval base to face such situations, he said. B.S. Pai, a legal adviser on environmental issues, said that a thin oil film was visible still on water and the beaches.

The oil film blocked the intake of oxygen by the fish. And it being the breeding season, the oil spill would affect fish catch in future. He alleged that pumping out of oil from the wrecked ship was not carried out systematically.

The oil was likely to be deposited in crevices near the shore further affecting marine life.

He said the district administration should file a criminal case against the ship's owners and seek compensation for pollution.