Oceanic disaster ahead

By Amlan Home Chowdhury
Published: Tuesday 30 April 1996

The latest findings of the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMAPS) offer us a gloomy picture about the health of the seas. The COMAPs has identified 25 locations of "hotspots" of environmental pollution, where marine life as a whole is facing a major threat. The analysis of data collected by COMAPs describes Veraval Port, Hazira, the Tapi estuary, Varsova Creek, Mahim Bayand the Thane Creek as "areas of high pollution" (AHP).

Madras Harbour, Ennore estuary Vishakhapatnam harbour, Kakinada and Puri have also been given the A HP status. But the West Bengal coast, along with Kandla, Bassein Creek, Ratnagiri, Mandovi Zuari, Cannanore, Calicut and Cuddalore have been classified as areas of low pollution.

The department of ocean development (DoD) is according very high priority to cleaning up of the seas, as now their emphasis is on the polymetallic nodules harvested from the ocean, from which metals like copper, nickel and cobalt are being extracted. Along India's huge coastline, there are over 350,000 industrial units. An estimated 120,000 tonne of garbage, chemical and toxic waste finds its way into the ocean, endangering oceanic ecosystems.

The DoD has taken some steps to save the ecosystems of the ~Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshwadeep, the Minicoy group and other island systems in the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The Central government is planning to empower the state pollution control boards to take strict action against offending units. But considering the mammoth task in hand, the DoD has been given a pittance of a budget: only Rs 65.94 crore for the year 1995-96.

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