Chennai: Outgoing Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam visited Ennore, outside Chennai, nearly a week after two ships collided at port's anchorage and spilled around 20 tonnes of oil along the coastline. Taking stock of the situation, Mr Panneerselvam said that authorities have cleaned up 90 per cent of sludge in the affected regions of Tiruvallore, Chennai and Kancheepuram.
"The sludge removal work will be completed in a day of two," he said.
Mr Panneerselvam further stated that the department of fisheries and revenue were working towards providing relief to fishermen, who have been deeply affected by the oil spill.
The government said that while the spill has extended to 12 km along the Tamil Nadu coastline, 75 metric tonnes of sludge has been removed. But while the Coast Guard and the authorities seem confident that the operation will be complete within the next few days, the spill's impact on aquaculture and coastal vegetation remains unclear.
This is the nesting month for the endangered Olive Ridley turtles - a species that is especially vulnerable to pollution. Environmentalists are worried because nearly a dozen turtles have been found dead.
"We have definitely lost many varieties of crab and fish. We need to address it. We need to form a committee of marine biologists and institutions to study the after effects," said environmental expert Nisha Thota.
On the ground, young students and professionals are at the forefront of the clean-up operation. The volunteers are manually collecting sludge in buckets to clear the water and reduce the damage.
"We are doing it manually as there is no sucker machine. We are nearly 60 people and there is a lot to clean up," said 25-year-old engineering student Arjun Kumar.
Investigating the matter, the police said that the two ships will not be allowed to leave the port and crew members are being interrogated.
(with inputs from Agencies)