The National Green Tribunal on Monday issued notices to the Centre and Tamil Nadu government after hearing a petition seeking compensation for those affected by the oil spill off Kamarajar port in the state’s Ennore district. The governments have been directed to submit their replies to the plea within 24 hours.
The petition has also sought the seizure of the two vessels involved in the oil spill on January 28, in addition to an expert committee to monitor the clean-up process and evaluate the damage caused to the region’s environment, PTI reported on Sunday.
The owners of the two vessels as well as the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Shipping Ministry, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the state’s chief secretary have been made parties to the petition. “It is imperative that the respondents pay compensation for restitution and restoration of the environment and ecology,” the petition said.
The petitioner said that the oil spill had spread beyond Chennai’s Marina Beach and was continuing along the coast. “The respondents have grossly violated the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and are liable to pay adequate compensation,” the petition said, adding that people had been advised not to go near the beaches affected. The plea further alleged that merchant vessels had not adopted safety guidelines issued by the International Maritime Organisation and other bodies for such situations.
On Saturday, the Centre said that more than 90% of the clean-up work had been completed. The remaining work is expected to be completed in the next couple of days, an official government statement had said. Outgoing Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam also assured fishermen that their livelihood would be safeguarded. “The Centre and state government are working in close coordination...We will compensate fishermen for their loss,” he said, though he denied any impact on marine flora and fauna.
The spill, which officials had earlier claimed was no more than 10 tonnes of oil and in a restricted area, has now spread from Ennore to Mahabalipuram – a distance of 72 km – along the Tamil Nadu coast. At least 70 tonnes of oil spilled into the ocean, affecting life along the coast and hitting marine life, which includes endangered species such as the Olive Ridley turtles that are breeding right now.