Mauritius oil spill: India sends help to clean the oil spil
In line with Prime Minister’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), to deal with a oil spill crisis on the south-east coast of Mauritius, India has dispatched over 30 tonnes of technical equipment and material on Sunday. This material has gone onboard the C-17 Globemaster of the Indian Air Force (IAF). This material will supplement that country’s efforts to contain the oil spill and salvage operations.
“The assistance sent today is in line with India’s policy to extend humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to its neighbours in the Indian Ocean region IOR) and is a reflection of the close friendship the two counties enjoy,” sources told Financial Express Online.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic crisis, as part of `Mission Sagar’ , India was the first to send help which included essential medicines, a medical assistance team as well as a special consignment of Ayurvedic medicines.
In July 25, a bulk carrier vessel, MV Wakashio, ran aground on the reef at Pointe d’Esny which is located on the South eastern part of Mauritius and is close to ecologically sensitive reserves and prominent tourist destinations.
Owned by M/s Okiyo Maritime Corp/ Nagashiki Shipping Co Ltd (a Japanese company) and 300 m long vessel, was on its way to way to Brazil . Though there was no cargo on board, there was around 4000 metric tons of fuel for its use.
Unfortuately, early salvage operations to pull out the vessel from the reef failed. It was due to rough weather and heavy sea swells made it impossible to evacuate the oil on board. The government of Mauritius had to declare Environmental Emergency when oil leakages and breaches in the vessels were noticed.
Sources confirmed to Financial Express Online that, “From the time the incident happened, the Indian High Commission in Mauritius has been in touch with the local authorities. There have been several rounds of emergency consultations, to understand the support which can be extended on immediate basis. And it was decided that Indian Oil (Mauritius) Limited (IOML) will extend all possible assistance to the government of that country. Experts from that company were in constant touch with the local authorities and guiding on the salvage operations.”
“Later on Aug 7, IOML moved its barge ‘Tresta Star’ towards the site. This step was taken to give all possible assistance including debunkering of oil from the vessel. And, it was successful in evacuating around 1000 tonnes of oil from the tanks which were intact on Aug 10,” sources explained.
Importance of Mauritius
India is the largest development partner and a net provider of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the Indian Ocean region. And the expectations from India were obviously very high, especially from the dominant Diaspora.
On receiving request for assistance, led by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in co-ordination with MoP&NG, MoD and relevant stakeholders, equipment and material assistance for supply to Mauritius for urgently dealing with the oil spill crisis was mobilized.
Along with MoPNG, Indian Coast Guard and Ministry of Defence, a decision was taken on what material and equipment could be immediately supplied and to identify the fastest way of transporting help to that country.
What has India sent?
Around 30 tonnes of technical equipment and material has been sent on board an IAF C-17 Globemaster Aircraft to Mauritius. This material has been provided by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). Under the National Oil Spill-Disaster Contingency Plan(NOS-DCP), ICG is the designated national authority for oil spill response in Indian waters.
More about the equipment
It is specially designed for use in Oil spill containment and salvage operations.
It includes Ocean Booms, River Booms, Disc Skimmers, Heli Skimmers.
Also, Power packs, Inflators, Blowers, Salvage barge and 10000 Oil absorbent pads.
Since the equipment requires trained manpower to operate, ICG has dispatched a 10-member Technical Response Team. This team is trained which is trained for dealing with oil spill containment measures.
Also, the IAF has onboard 10,000 high capacity oil absorbent pads. These have been specially procured and supplied by Indian Oil Corporation.
These pads are manufactured here in India and are specially designed using grapheme (an allotrope of carbon).
These are extremely useful in salvage operations in and around beaches where oil has spread.
These special pads will help the local communities in cleaning up the polluted beaches and lagoons too.
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