Updated: September 4, 2021 3:21:47 pm
Over the last two days, Juhu and Versova, the city’s two most popular beaches were once again covered with sticky black tarballs that also gave off a foul smell.
The BMC removed 18 tonne or 18,000 kg of tar balls from the two beaches on Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, the carcass of a finless porpoise covered in oil had also washed ashore on Juhu beach.
On August 6, BMC had removed 6,000 kg of tarballs from Juhu beach alone.
With the start of the monsoon season, local residents and environmentalists have repeatedly witnessed these tar deposits reaching the Chimbai and Vasai shoreline as well.
While deposits of tar along Juhu beach at high tide are common during the monsoon, experts said their volume was unusually large and widespread this year.
The BMC has alerted its staffers and the clean-up contractor appointed at various beaches to remove the tarballs post high tide.
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has been alerted about the large quantity of tar balls. On Friday, it collected samples of the deposits from the Juhu beach.It will be tested for pollutants.
The MPCB in the past has collected samples from city beaches. However, the tests have been inconclusive. It is suspected that the oil comes from the large cargo ships in the deep sea and gets pushed to the shore as tarballs during monsoon due to wind speed and direction.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner of K West ward, Prithiviraj Chavan, said, “We have been removing these tarballs immediately after high tide ingress. The contractor appointed at Juhu beach has been directed to remove these tarballs at the earliest. However, it is not one day’s work. The deposits get mixed with the sand and garbage, it gets stuck on the cleaning machinery as well.”
Tarballs are dark-coloured sticky balls of oil deposits formed when crude oil floats on the ocean surface.
To raise awareness and get authorities to notice the environmental problem, the director of Coastal Conservation Foundation, Shaunak Modi, who has been documenting the tarballs occurrence since 2018 at Juhu beach, on Friday appealed to people to document the occurrence across Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
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