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Channel closure could cost JNPT dear

Channel closure could cost JNPT dear

Mumbai: The oil spill in Mumbai harbour caused by the Panama-flagged container vessel MSC Chitra, after a collision with the merchant vessel Khalijia last Saturday, could cost Jawaharlal Nehru port (JNPT) at least Rs45 million (close to $1 million) per day.

"The port will remain shut until the salvage operation ends," said JNPT's chief operating manager S N Maharana. "That could take another three to four days, at least. And if the weather conditions prove to be unfavourable, it could take even longer. The incident will definitely have a negative impact on the port's revenues."

Vessels are unable to berth at either JNPT or Mumbai ports; they are having to take a detour and sail towards Gujarat, where ports like Mundra and Pipavav would benefit to the extent of handling seven to eight vessels per day that would have otherwise called at India's No.1 container port. JNPT handles some 2,800 vessels in a year.
Of equal concern is the fact that vessels laden with perishable goods waiting to dock at JNPT would move on to a neighbouring port. Apart from the environmental and ecological damage wreaked by the oil spilt from two fuel tanks of the MSC Chitra, there are fears about the contents of the 250-odd containers that slid from the listing deck of the vessel into the sea, and have not been recovered. Some of these boxes are understood to carry hazardous chemicals.

An estimated 400 tonnes of oil has been vented by the Chitra's fuel tanks, and the high tide has stretched the slick from Raj Bhavan (Government House) along the coast south of Mumbai to Alibaug, Mandva, Murud and Revdanda. The market prices of fish have dropped to half their weekend levels, and fisherfolk are terrified that the after-effects of the ecological disaster could last for several weeks. [10/08/10]