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Sharmili Mallick

Puri: Amid fears of oil spillage from Malaysian cargo ship Jin Hwa 32’ which ran aground on August 7 at Rajhans Island near Chilika Lake, the Puri district administration today begun the process for evacuation of the stored oil from the vessel.

“The removal of oil from the cargo ship Jin Hwa 32 began today and it might take 3 to 4 days. After the evacuation of oil is over, arrangements will be made to shift the vessel from the shore so that it does not affect the coastal ecosystem in any way,” State Commerce and Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera said.

The Minister also stated that there is no danger to the marine ecosystem of the brackish water of Chilika lagoon as there is no leakage of oil from the ship’s engine so far.

“The process to identify the owner and agency managing the cargo vessel took time and that is why the entire procedure for the removal of oil from the vessel was delayed,” added Behera.

Puri Collector Balwant Singh said, “As oil is in the main ship, an operation has been launched to extract them. If weather allows the oil be extracted from the ship in a day or two and vessel will be sent to Vishakhapatnam. Afterwards, the owner will carry out the salvage process.”

As per reports, around 250 litres of oil will be evacuated from the vessel in each phase and stored safely at the jetty of Chilika Development Authority (CDA). Subsequently, the Malaysian cargo ship will be shifted from the coast.

The vessel has around 30,000 litres of diesel, 1,000 litres of lubricant oil and 200 litres of hydraulic oil, added reports.

A team of technicians from Chandipur of Balasore district have been roped in for draining the oil from the wrecked ship.

“Though we reached here seven days back, we could not start the oil removal process due to the lack of equipment. However, the required instruments have been brought from Kolkata and we expect that the oil can be evacuated from the ship within two days,” said a technician.

Sources said, the cargo vessel with dead-weight tonnage of 7,500 had sailed from Mongla Port on August 2 and was heading towards Visakhapatnam Port. But after being caught in stormy waters, it drifted towards Odisha and anchored near Rajhans Island off Chilika coast.

Earlier, the Indian Coast Guard had written a letter to the owner of the vessel and Odisha government citing that the ship which is loaded with fuel and lubricants, posed a threat to eco-sensitive Chilika lake.

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