The recent oil spill near the Mumbai coast due to the collision of two ships has put the mangroves and marine life in and around Mumbai under grave danger. Layers of oil have been found to spread uptil Uran and Elephanta Caves.
Now the Coast Guard has warned of another possible oil spill off the Kavaratti Islands in Lakshwadeep. Nand Aparajita, a 78 meter long cargo vessel hired by a transport operator to ferry cement hit the coral reef off Karavatti Islands, damaging about 400 meters of the reef. Though at present there is no oil spill, according to Coast Guard officials, the ship is dangerously perched on the reef and thus can create environmental damage in the days to come. All crew members have been declared safe although rescue operations have been delayed due to unconditional weather conditions.
The ship has been grounded on the eastern side of the island an according to marine scientist at Bombay Natural History Society; this is a coral rich reef area home to thousands of marine species. The accident site especially is a nesting area for endangered green sea turtles, the hawksbill turtle and the olive ridley turtles. The coral reefs near Karavatti Islands are considered the second largest in India after those found off Andaman and Nicobar Islands and are home to many endangered marine species.
These coral reefs are considered one of the best in the world with marine animals such as whales, sharks, porpoises and dolphins also found here and this area has been recorded to produce 40 new species recently. A BNHS member said, "These reefs have over 150 species of coral, 600 species of mollusk, 1000 species of fish, 150 species of marine algae and a plethora of flora and fauna. The ship owners should be made to compensate for this extensive damage to the rich natural resources of the country."
The local police and Coast Guard officials are keeping hope that no oil spill occurs, as it will lead to endangering the lives of many rare species found in this area. But even if there is no oil spill, the grounding of ship will cause extensive damage to the coral reefs, which can extend over some area.
Lakshwadeep are a group of islands on the West Coast of India in the Arabian Sea. To visit Lakshwadeep, one requires to obtain a special permit from the government. This rule is applicable for both Indians and foreigners.