According to data released by the Union ministry of shipping, more than 203 metric tonnes (MT) of various kinds of hazardous substances are scattered around Mumbai Port. Some of this material can be traced to as far back as March 1983, but was neither destroyed nor moved to a safe location since action remained stuck in bureaucratic red tape.
Similarly, JNPT’s playing host to 206 MT of various hazardous material such as brass ash, slag of chrome, old and used nickel-cadmium batteries. These goods, which pose a serious health risk, were moved to JNPT starting in April 1992 but have not been neutralized till date. In sharp contrast to Mumbai, the ten other major ports of the country have hardly any dangerous material lying around. In fact, Vishakhapatnam and Paradip — which both handle far more cargo each year than Mumbai and JNPT — have reported zero hazardous goods on their premises.
Ministry of shipping officials explained that the Mumbai Port was home to 203 MT of hazardous goods, which pose a grave threat in a populous city, because for years ‘‘no objection certificates for their disposal were pending from the explosives and customs departments’’. Currently, paperwork for disposal is being done through the chief commissioner of customs and some chlorine gas cylinders are being destroyed.
In case of JNPT, officials said that the port trust had analyzed samples of some of the hazardous substances under directions received from the Supreme Court in 2007 and sent reports to the Union government but no action had been taken.