Ashish Vaswani
‘Tel laga’ is one expression that features amongst the most frequently used words in my limited vocabulary. It’s a milder alternative of asking someone to mind themselves or simply get lost, that I prefer over fancier cuss words. Plus I feel it sounds a lot cooler too!

I wish I could say the same about the gory images that I woke up to this morning:

Here’s what’s happened: two Panamanian vessels collided with each other near JNPT, Nhava Sheva, around 10km from Mumbai harbour last Saturday. The impact was so disastrous that it’s now resulted in one of those ships, MSC Chitra tilting at an angle of almost 80 degrees.

What’s even more horrifying is that almost 50 tonnes of oil from the ship has spilled into the sea, along with toxic chemicals from its 300 containers that tumbled out as well. Though authorities are claiming that the leak has been plugged and no more oil is flowing out, the ground reality could possibly be that there’s none left.

Fishermen and locals in the entire Konkan belt have already started experiencing the after effects of the catastrophe. And it is common sense that marine life in the region is going to bear the brunt. The precious few numbered mangroves around Mumbai are under an imminent threat.

But what’s interesting to note is that our netalog are least bothered about the issue. As usual, an ‘inquiry into the matter’ has been ordered. Jairam Ramesh, the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, paid his share of lip service in Parliament today by saying that ‘suitable action will be taken’. Salvage operations are not going to begin before 13th August even as the Mumbai Port Trust loses crores in revenue since all functioning has been suspended indefinitely. All because we’re waiting for Dutch and Singaporean help to arrive.

Earlier this year, a major oil spill of an even larger magnitude had occurred around the Gulf of Mexico. British Petroleum (BP), which was found responsible for the spill was made to pay damages to the tune of billions of dollars by the US government. And though clean-up operations have still not been completed, the quick response of all authorities involved must be lauded. I wonder if we can expect the same in India. It’s not the lack of infrastructure, but the mere lack of intent that impedes our path to global supremacy. Until such a will to achieve this goal finds its place in the Indian psyche, there’s not much we can do other than enjoying the paradox of the rainbow below our feet...