In search of an Oil Spill

Tannu Jain

After a pleasant bike ride to the Napier’s bridge, the walk from Anna Memorial was very difficult. The slow moving crowd at MGR Smarakam did not help either.

Reaching the Marina beach, as the hot sand burned my feet; I realized that beaches weren’t all that good. Finding the oil spill seemed impossible since the water looked as clean as ever. Tourists were happily taking dips in the water. Even the young kids.

The residents of Chennai were unaware of the oil having reached Marina. They seemed to believe that it was contained till Ennore, the original spot where the cargo ships had collided. Just as I was losing hope of finding a good story, a dead turtle floated by with the high waves.

A few steps further, there were a couple of fishes lying dead in the sand. As disgusted as I felt with the people swimming in the water where dead fishes and turtles were afloat, I had to move on for the story.

A group of men dressed in orange overalls in the distance told me that I might actually find the sludge. And Hindi speaking men too. I finally felt that questioning people was not as difficult as it had been for the past 6 months.

They turned out to be Marine Engineering students from the GKM College of engineering. After a few questions I found that they had come to Marina in a group of 50 along with their instructors to manually clean the beach. Sacks full of sludge lined the shore. They explained all the difficulties they had faced in the past two days of cleaning and how the government had turned a blind eye to the oil spill.

They explained their job well, but could not answer why they were trying to click my pictures with their teacher.

They said that even the Greater Chennai Corporation was not helping. The officials from the Corporation, who refused to give their names, however said that they had brought a team of 284 men with safety gear and cleaning equipment. On being asked where these men were, they showed me the clock to say it was lunch hours.

The oil cleaning process seemed slow on the whole. Why there is no government aid can only be answered by assuming that they don’t care.

 

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