In India we have all been consumed with the media coverage around Swine Flu. Yes it is tragic indeed for lives to be lost even though experts claim that it is a minor blip in terms of numbers. However that is not the topic of this post.
Another disaster that will have far reaching consequences and which has largely gone unnoticed is the oil spill that has happened around the coastline in the state of Gujarat. The Gujarat coastline is an often unexplored but beautiful part of the country. Recently a mysterious oil spill has ravaged around 100km of the coastline and the source of the spill has not yet been confirmed by the Government. The official reasons have ranged from a ‘rogue’ ship to a leaking pipeline, etc. But the fact of the matter is that the coastline has been destroyed beyond recognition in several parts. One cannot even fathom the ecological damage that it must have done to marine life and the environmental and economical hammering that the people living around the coast will suffer due to this.
It took a good 10 days of dilly-dallying for the Government to first confirm that it was indeed an oil spill. But the source still remains a mystery. As I write this, it seems that cleaning operations have begun in some areas which were hit the hardest but so much still remains to be done in terms of cleaning the beaches, identifying the culprits and bringing them to book.
I regularly visit Nargol, a sleepy town just north of the Maharashtra border inside Gujarat. The beach at Nargol is beautiful and countless hours have been spent there lapping up nature at its best. I went to the beach at Nargol this time hoping for the worst in terms of the oil spill. They claim that the beach is not among the worst hit in terms of oil spill. However when I reached there, not a soul was present and I could see why. The beach has been ravaged completely and it is impossible to walk without stepping your feet in crude oil (yes you read that right!). Reading it in the papers is one thing but when you actually see the destruction that it has caused, it leaves you wondering how fucked up we are as a human race.
I am sure that in due course of time — the beach will get cleaned up. That is the simple part of the postmortem. The painful effects of this human crime will be the possibly permanent damage to marine life along the coast, the economical hardships that will be thrust upon people whose livelihood was dependent on the sea and the adverse health effects on people living along the coast.
I personally do not care about the punishment because that will be treating the symptom and not the disease. The disease that has spread far and wide and in our very veins is complete disregard for nature and systematic destruction of it for the sake of commerce.
I have no idea how bad the scene is at places which are worst hit, since a coastline of nearly 100km has been affected. But if Nargol is not the worst hit, then I am afraid of even seeing the places where it is even worse. I leave you with disturbing pictures of the beach at Nargol….