The recent collision between two cargo ships – MSC Chitra and M V Khalijia III off the coast of Mumbai has exposed several systemic lacunae. First the collision of two large vessels close to port exemplifies as a failure in navigation protocols. Both the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and the Mumbai Port Trust have vessel guideline systems and were in touch with the two ships. Indeed this shows the lack of miscommunication among the two leading this collision. Those guilty of negligence need to be investigated and brought to book. The other concern relates to the environmental disaster the collision is turning out to be. Reminiscent of Exxon Valdez, around 900 tonnes of oil has leaked out of the damaged duel tanks of MSC Chitra. Also worrisome is the fact that the grounded ship is carrying 31 containers of corrosive chemicals and pesticides. Unless these are salvaged, they combined with oil spill, will have an adverse impact on the surrounding marine ecology. With shipping and port traffic increasing at a furious pace, maritime agencies and coastal security authorities need to be on their toes. Better coordination and greater investment in disaster management infrastructure is the way forward.
Mohd Ziyaullah Khan