In response to a request of the Government of Mauritius (GoM) for assistance in dealing with the environmental crisis due to oil spill on its south-east coast, the Government of India (GoI) has dispatched over 30 tonnes of technical equipment and material on board an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft to Mauritius to supplement the country’s ongoing oil spill containment and salvage operations.
India’s assistance is in line with its policy to extend humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to its neighbours in the Indian Ocean region, guided by PM Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region). The urgent assistance reflects the close bonds of friendship between India and Mauritius and India’s abiding commitment to assist the people of Mauritius in need. The Indian assistance follows recent support provided by India to Mauritius in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, including supply of essential medicines, a special consignment of Ayurvedic medicines as well as a medical assistance team sent as part of Mission ‘Sagar’.
Coast Guard to fight marine pollution
Consequent to high level decision by Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Defence, Indian Coast Guard has deputed a 10-member specialist pollution response team along with Pollution Response equipment to Mauritius for supplementing ongoing efforts to contain an oil spill from bulk carrier MV Wakashio on its south-eastern coastline. The specialist Indian Coast Guard team is qualified in pollution response operations at sea and is capable of undertaking pollution response and cleanup operations. The various pollution response equipment such as Ocean and River Booms, skimmers, salvage barge were dispatched to combat oil spill.The Indian Coast Guard pollution response team in coordination with Mauritius, experts and teams from various other countries and specialized international experts from organisations like IMO and ITOPF will work in tandem to safeguard the pristine ecological sensitive environment and mitigate the effects of spilled oil at sea and ashore. True to its motto ‘Vayam Rakshamah’ meaning ‘We Protect’ Indian Coast Guard collaborates with maritime countries in the Indian Ocean Region and South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme plays a key role in mitigating threats to sensitive ecosystems during the oil spill incidents.
HAL Helicopters in oescue operations
(Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) HAL’s indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv and Chetak helicopters have been pressed into service to rescue people and extricate skimmed oil from the Japanese owned cargo ship MV Wakashio. The ship was on its way from China to Brazil but ran aground on the reef at Pointe d’Esny, Mauritius recently.
“Time and again the indigenous Dhruv helicopter has proven its capabilities. Our helicopters were extensively utilized for search and rescue operations in the past as well”, said R. Madhavan, CMD, HAL. Thanks to the Indian Air Force, Indian Coast Guards and Mauritius police, HAL helicopters flew non-stop dawn to dusk till all the survivors on board were safely rescued. A total of 210 cargo operations and 270 winch operations were undertaken by HAL choppers towards salvage and rescue missions so far. The Chetak helicopters were used primarily for winching survivors. The ALHs flew continuous missions to get the international salvage team on-board the ship to contain the spill. The HAL made helicopters have flown till now 110 hours and rescued 600 people from and to MV Wakasio. The spill is close to two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve. Nearby are a number of popular tourist beaches and mangrove plantations. Mauritius had declared a state of environmental emergency. A crack inside the hull of the ship expanded earlier this week leading to the ship splitting into two halves.