By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, April 20:
The eighth edition of the two-day National Level Pollution Response Exercise, “NATPOLREX-VIII” organised by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) off Mormugao harbour, in Goa was inaugurated by Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar on Tuesday.
Besides NATPOLREX, the ICG is simultaneously conducting a capacity-building professional training course in Marine Oil Response and Preparedness for 45 international participants from 18 countries including member states from Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) at Chennai till April 29.
The marine spill preparedness exercise was inaugurated by the Defence Secretary in the presence of Secretary, Union Ministry of Earth Sciences Dr. M Ravichandran, ICG Director General VS Pathania, Director General, South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) Dr. Mohmed Masumur Rahman, and various senior dignitaries from Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, National Disaster Response Force, India Meteorological Department, Indian Navy, and State Pollution Control Board, Goa.
The event is being attended by over 85 participants from 50 agencies, including 29 observers from 22 friendly foreign countries and International Organisations and two Coast Guard ships from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The objective of NATPOLREX-VIII is to enhance the preparedness and response capability of all the stakeholders in combating marine spills. It aims at validating the procedures and guidelines as contained in the National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan (NOSDCP) at the national and regional levels under the aegis of the SACEP Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to which India is a member state.
During the exercise, various components of NOSDCP were invoked to validate and improve the contingency plans and evaluate the preparedness of the resource agencies as well as stakeholders to meet any marine spill disaster at sea.
In the exercise, 13 ships and 10 aircraft from ICG, one C-131 aircraft from the Indian Air Force, and two ships from SACEP member states viz. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and one Offshore Supply vessel (OSV) from ONGC, assets from Shipping Corporation of India(SCI), and tugs from Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) demonstrated containment cum marine spill recovery by side sweeping arms, deployment of booms and skimmers, streaming of single ship operated containment cum recovery system, fire fighting drill, rescue operation, and demonstration of surface and air oil spill dispersant systems. The exercise was reviewed by Chairman NOSDCP in presence of National and International Observers.
The exercise is being coordinated by ICG encompassing assets from resource agencies and stakeholders including Ports, Oil Handling Agencies, Coastal States/Union Territories, and other resource agencies. It comprises a two-day program featuring table-top exercise, pollution response workshop on marine Oil and HNS spill followed by exercise at sea.