Na­tional level pol­lu­tion re­sponse ex­er­cise


In­dia’s en­ergy re­quire­ments (ap­prox­i­mately 70 per cent) are met by oil re­source that is be­ing im­ported into our coun­try by ships. The trans­porta­tion of oil through sea route is fraught with in­her­ent risks and re­quires pre­ven­tive mea­sures to be taken both by the ship-own­ers and the oil re­ceiv­ing fa­cil­i­ties in­side port.

The In­dian Coast Guard (ICG) is the cen­tral co­or­di­nat­ing au­thor­ity for oil spill re­sponse and has put into place a ro­bust pol­lu­tion re­sponse sys­tem to check the pre­pared­ness lev­els of oil han­dling agen­cies at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals. The Gulf of Kutch houses eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive man­groves and coral reefs, which are fraught with dan­ger in case of an oil spill. To ad­dress is­sues re­lat­ing to an oil spill, the sixth edi­tion of Na­tional Level Pol­lu­tion Re­sponse Ex­er­cise (NATPOLREX-VI) was con­ducted by the In­dian Coast Guard on De­cem­ber 20-21, 2016, off Mun­dra in Gulf of Kutch. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of var­i­ous min­istries and de­part­ments of cen­tral and state gov­ern­ments, ports, oil han­dling agen­cies and other stake­hold­ers par­tic­i­pated in the ex­er­cise. In ad­di­tion, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Oil In­dus­try Safety Direc­torate and ob­servers from three for­eign na­tions also wit­nessed the NATPOLREX-VI ex­er­cise. Some 125 per­son­nel from var­i­ous agen­cies/stake­hold­ers par­tic­i­pated in the ex­er­cise.

Nine Coast Guard ships, two Coast Guard he­li­copters, two Dornier air­craft, one In­dian naval ship, one air force air­craft (C-130J Su­per Her­culeus), three tugs from KPT/Mun­dra Port, one tanker of the Ship­ping Cor­po­ra­tion of In­dia, 2 MSV/OSV from other re­source agen­cies and teams for beach clean­ing from state gov­ern­ment also par­tic­i­pated in the ex­er­cise.

The high­light of the ex­er­cise was par­tic­i­pa­tion of ICG pol­lu­tion con­trol ves­sels (PCV) and in­te­gra­tion of air force into the Oil Spill Disas­ter Man­age­ment Sys­tem for aerial as­sess­ment/ de­liv­ery of oil spill dis­per­sant (OSD) for mit­i­ga­tion of the spilled oil. The NATPOLREX-VI was pre­cluded by a ta­ble-top ex­er­cise on De­cem­ber 20, 2016, for sim­u­la­tion of the sit­u­a­tion.

The In­dian Coast Guard as­sumed re­spon­si­bil­ity of pro­tect­ing ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment in her mar­itime zones on March 1, 1986, when these re­spon­si­bil­i­ties were trans­ferred from the Min­istry of Ship­ping. Sub­se­quently, the Coast Guard pre­pared the Na­tional Oil Spill Disas­ter Contin­gency Plan (NOSDCP) for com­bat­ing oil spill disas­ter at sea, which was ap­proved by the com­mit­tee of sec­re­taries in 1993. The In­dian Coast Guard has also es­tab­lished three Pol­lu­tion Re­sponse Cen­tres at Mumbai, Chen­nai and Port Blair and has the ca­pa­bil­ity to re­spond to oil spills up to 10,000 tonnes with as­sis­tance of var­i­ous agen­cies.

Chief Min­is­ter of Gu­jarat Vi­jayb­hai R. Rupani re­viewed the pre­pared­ness of all agen­cies dur­ing the ex­er­cise on De­cem­ber 21, 2016, from on­board Coast Guard ship Sarathi along with Rajendra Singh, PTM, TM, the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the In­dian Coast Guard.

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