Mumbai: The world’s second biggest container shipping firm and the operator of MSC Chitra, Mediterranean Shipping Co. SA (MSC), will sue Gulf Rocks Co., the Kuwaiti owner of MV Khalijia, for damages.
On 7 August, MVKhalijia hit MSCChitra at the main entrance of the shipping channel used by Jawaharlal Nehru and Mumbai ports, leading to an oil spill of at least 400 tonnes.
Experts estimate that it will take $10 million (Rs 46.30 crore) to clean the oil spill due to the collision. MSC has made an advance payment of Rs 1 crore to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.
The board had demanded Rs 3 crore from MSC for cleaning-up operations across the Maharashtra coastline.
Besides the closure of the two ports for at least a week, the oil spill, termed the worst ever in India by the environment ministry, affected mangrove forests and spread to Elephanta, Navy Nagar, Nhava Island and Awas.
“MSC Chitra was an innocent victim in this crash. We will sue the owners of MVKhalijia once the investigation is over. We will go 10 levels ahead to fight the case for all the damages and losses created by this collision,” said D.K. Tewari, chief executive officer of MSCAgency (India) Pvt. Ltd, the Indian unit of MSC.
He said the simplified voyage data recorder, similar to a black box in a plane, indicates that MSC Chitra was not at fault and was on the right hand side of the channel in accordance with navigation rules.
“In the meantime, we are retrieving all containers that fell on the sea, though there are 189 boxes (that are) still unaccounted for,” Tewari said.
Mint could not immediately contact Gulf Rocks, or the firm’s Indian representative, Quadrant Maritime Pvt. Ltd.
Indian maritime regulator Directorate General of Shipping is investigating the collision.
“DG,shipping, takes no cognizance of MSC’s claim even as they have every right to project their side. The investigation on the collision is progressing and shortly we will hand the report to the government,” said director general of shipping S.B. Agnihotri.
According to the Energy and Resources Institute’s (Teri) first report on the extent of contamination, the concentrations of petroleum hydrocarbon are much higher than internationally permitted.
The spill was due to furnace oil stored in the ship, which is heavier and less degradable than crude oil.
Furnace oil also contains organo-sulphur compounds, which are highly undesirable from an environmental perspective. “At present, there is no permissible limit set for oil contamination in soil in India. We hope that the concerned regulatory authorities set the standard limit so that polluters can be penalized,”said Banwari Lal, director, TERI.