Activists in the city have raised concerns over the increasing number of cases in which tarballs, some the size of a basketball, have washed ashore along the Mumbai coastline over the last two months.
Such cases have been reported at Juhu and Dadar beaches and on the Marine Drive promenade. The Juhu beach saw tarballs washing ashore on July 5 and 6. Last week, morning walkers again reported tarballs and the smell of diesel emanating from the water.
According to Shaunak Modi, a member of the Marine Life in Mumbai, which has been documenting marine life along the coast, said, “I saw oil as well as tarballs strewn along Juhu beach last week. This is not a natural phenomenon and is a threat to marine life… the authorities need to investigate this matter…”
Sarita Fernandes, conservation officer, Vanashakti, has raised complaints with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). “It happens every year, but I’ve never seen such huge tarballs. I have not received any response to my complaints to MPCB and other authorities,” she said. “There should be a scientific analysis of the composition of these tarballs so their origin can be understood.”
However, an MPCB official said the board has not received any complaint. “We had received complaints of tarballs strewn on Juhu beach last year. We had sent some samples for investigation to institutes, including the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the National Institute of Oceanography. They were unable to give us any reasons,” said the official on condition of anonymity. “We have also told coast guards to check oil spills,” the official added.
Meanwhile, oil spills, tarball deposition and pollution also rose along the south Gujurat coastline in mid July. In a complaint to Gujarat Pollution Control Board, dated July 23, M S H Sheikh, president of the Brackish Water Research Centre, said, “Oil tarballs have increased in the last few days and are polluting the coastline. Vegetation on the edges of the shore also has oil traces.”
“There is complete apathy on the part of authorities, who are brushing this off as an annual affair. They are leaving the coastline to be continuously polluted,” Sheikh added. A senior MPCB official said, “Following complaints… a meeting was convened by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on Tuesday to probe the issue.”