The State Environment and Forest Department has informed the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal that a proposal to form an expert committee to study the oil spill off Ennore is under consideration and is expected to be in place soon.
Filing a common reply for three respondents in the case, Atulya Mishra, Principal Secretary, Environment and Forests, submitted that the committee would look into issues such as the amount of oil leaked, its properties, the extent of damage caused to the marine and coastal environment, including flora and fauna, adverse impact on air, water and sand, the real and potential health hazards to the public.
He said the Director of Environment had proposed to form the committee that would include experts from Ministry of Earth Sciences, IIT-Madras; Institute of Ocean Management, Anna University; Tamil Nadu State Coastal Zone Management Authority; State and Central Pollution Control Boards; Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department and the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board.
The committee will assess the possibility of recovery of marine eco-system, the extent of damage, formulate programmes to mitigate and adopt due to the adverse impact, restoration of marine econ system, carrying out health welfare programmes, formulation of framework to prevent such incidents in the future and to fix responsibility on agencies.
The official submitted that oil sludge was reportedly sighted at the beaches of Tiruvottiyur, Pulicat, Mamallapuram, and Cuddalore.
It has been collected and the beaches have been cleaned by the Coast Guard, district administrations and the TNPCB.
In a separate reply, the Chairman of the Kamarajar Port Trust Ltd, gave a detailed account of the accident. He informed the tribunal that the Port Control had issued a six-minute warning before the collision of the vessels happened.
“It is submitted that despite the collision warning issued by the Port Control, both vessels did not take appropriate steps, which resulted in the collision at 03:45 hours,” he said.
The Bench comprising Justice P. Jyothimani and expert member P.S. Rao, posted the matter for further hearing on March 13.