Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday that the ''polluter must pay'' for the environmental and maritime losses arising out of the collision of the two ships, resulting in the oil spill off the Mumbai coast early this month.
"The polluter must pay and polluter will pay. Studies by different institutions have been commissioned for ascertaining the impact of the oil spill on the fishery sector and other economic losses," said Ramesh, replying to questions on the oil spill resulting from the collision of vessels on August 7.
"The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board has asked the National Institute of Oceanography and the National Environment Engineering Research Institute to carry out comprehensive environmental impact assessment studies," he added.
Ramesh further said the ban on fishing in the area was imposed till August 15 not after the collision, but because of the monsoon.
"India was not a signatory to the Bunkers Convention, such a recourse was not available. However, expeditious efforts were being made to become a party to the convention," said Ramesh, in reply to a question whether the government would seek compensation under an international convention. "It was essential for the country to be a member of the Bunkers Convention for claiming damages since the ships which met with an accident were only dry vessels and not tankers," he added.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy citing the example of US making British Petroleum pay up Rs 90,000 crore for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico asked whether there was any designated agency, which would seek compensation from the polluter.
Two Panamanian cargo ships - MSC Chitra and MV Khalija-111 - collided off the Mumbai coast, causing an oil spill from one of the vessels on August 7.