Tamil Nadu yet to form green panel for assessing oil spill impact

The fisheries department estimated that around one lakh fishermen were affected, but it requires a scientific study to substantiate the figure. 

Published: 07th March 2017 05:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th March 2017 05:44 AM   |  A+A-

Effects of the oil spill on Chennai's shores. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Over a month after disaster struck, the State government is yet to form an environment impact assessment committee to calculate the compensation package for the fishermen and also levy environmental penalty on MT Dawn Kanchipuram, which collided with MT BW Maple causing several tonnes of heavy furnace oil (HFO) to spill into the sea.

Reliable sources told Express that a new team of experts from the International Tankers Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) are coming this week to discuss the compensation package and settlement of claims. ITOPF is a leading marine ship pollution response adviser, and was roped in as part of Protection and Indemnity insurance (P&I), in respect of third party liabilities and expenses arising out of the ownership or operating of ships.

The fisheries department estimated that around one lakh fishermen were affected, but it requires a scientific study to substantiate the figure. 

Scientists at the Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM) Project Directorate in Chennai, who are analysing the ecological footprint of the oil spill, said it has affected over 230 km of State coast from Pulicat to Cuddalore as on date. 

That would mean a lot more fishermen could have been affected.

ICMAM head M V Ramana Murthy told Express that the institute has initiated a detailed study on the physio-chemical and biological aspects of the affected coastal environment and compared it with the long term water quality datasets available with ICMAM. 

“We have completed the sampling, and the final report on extent and drift of the spill, impact on water quality, biological parameters, impact on coastal livelihood will be submitted to the Ministry of Earth Sciences next week.”

The State government had indicated that a high level committee would be formed in which ICMAM, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), IIT Madras, fisheries and environment departments would be members. “We are yet to hear anything on this,” he said.

When contacted, P Laxmilatha, scientist-in-charge, CMFRI, said that they, too, were conducting a study on the impact of the oil spill on fisheries. The report would submitted to the fisheries department by the end of the month.

“The preliminary analysis showed significant damage to bottom and inter-tidal fauna, which are critical for sustaining the coastal ecosystem. Only an in-depth study will reveal the complete truth,” Laxmilatha said.
H Malleshappa, director of Department of Environment and member-secretary of State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, who is expected to head the committee, was not available for comment.


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