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Goa to rope in Navy, Coast Guard to tackle tar-ball menace

Panaji

23-December-2019

 The Goa government is looking to rope in the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard to prevent tar-balls (sticky blobs generated from waste oil and ballast dumped by ships anchored in the international waters off the shore) that regularly wash ashore on the coastal state's beaches.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the Goa State Environment Protection Council at Raj Bhavan on Monday, Waste Management Minister Michael Lobo said that the state government was also considering purchasing a new high-range vessel which could intercept ships polluting the seas with waste oil and ballast.

"We discussed the phenomenon of tar-balls surfacing on Goa's beaches. We will raise it with the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests and seek the help of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard to tackle the menace," Lobo told reporters, after the Council's meeting, chaired by state Governor Satya Pal Malik.

The phenomenon of tar-balls surfacing along Goa's popular beaches first came to light in the 1970s, when black streaks of the semi-solid substance started lining beaches across the state, mostly after the monsoon.

After posing a mystery for a couple of decades, around ten years ago the Goa based National Institute of Oceanography conclusively established the linkage between tar-balls and ballast and waste oil dumped by ships in the sea along the state's coastline.

The oily water dumped into the sea undergoes a weathering process, leading to tar-ball formation. With the arrival of the south west monsoon, the tar balls start floating towards the coastline of India and land on the beaches, including those in Goa, resulting in an eyesore for tourists.

The tar-ball menace peaked in 2011, with the state government asking the Coast Guard to crackdown on ships dumping their ballast off the state, but it did not yield the anticipated results.

On days when the tar-balls surface on the beaches, the sand as well as the water in the shallows smell acrid like petroleum, putting off tourists and other beach goers.

Lobo said that the state government's Captain of Ports department, on its own, was unable to comprehensively monitor and tackle the menace, because the large tankers and ships dumped ballast and discharged waste oil in the global navigation channels, in international waters, which are out of the state government's jurisdiction.

"The Captain of Ports alone cannot monitor this. Ships release their oil and ballast in the international waters and waste washes ashore with the tide on to the beaches," said Lobo, who is also the Minister for Ports.

He said that the Goa government's Captain of Ports department was considering purchasing a new vessel with a capacity to travel beyond five nautical miles into the international waters for better patrolling of the seas off Goa.IANS