The oil, which is believed to have come from a rogue cargo ship, is already washing onto the beaches, merely a month before Goa’s busy tourist season begins. Scores of community and civic workers have volunteered to collect and clear the thick layers of oil off the sand so as to prepare the beaches for the winter onslaught of foreign and domestic visitors, upon which much of the region’s economy depends.
‘More tar is washing ashore all the time, said Swapnil Naik, Goa’s top tourism official. Congress politician Shantaram Naik has asked the Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Rameshminister ‘decipher the exact cause’ of the oil spill.
The oil slick has left an unsightly trail across several famous tourist spots like Calangute, Candolim and Colva and and raised widespread concerns about the success of the forthcoming tourist season. Where exactly the oil came from is also in dispute with suspicion falling on one of the many cargo ships which pass along India’s east coast.
Some suggest that the heavy tar balls may have lain on the bottom of the seabed for some time, then floated to the surface as a result of the recent monsoon rains. The collision of two merchant ships off the Mumbai coast in early August caused a massive oil slick in the metropolis’ shores but it is not believed the Goan oil is related.
How the oil spill may effect Goa’s native fishing fleet, who provide a valuable source of food as well as contributing to the local economy remains unknown. Currently, the clean up effort continues at full spate, so that every effort may be made to protect Goa’s valuable contribution to the Indian travel tourism industry.