• The NATPOLREX-IX accomplished its objective of testing the level of preparedness and coordination between various resource agencies to respond to a marine oil spill, invoking provisions of the National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan (NOSDCP).
  • More than 31 foreign observers and 80 delegates participated in the ninth edition of the exercise, conducted in November 2023, off Vadinar coast of Gujarat.
  • Director general of Indian Coast Guard and the chairman NOSDCP, reviewed the preparedness of all agencies during the exercise. Representatives of various ministries and departments of Central and coastal state governments, ports, oil-handling agencies and other stakeholders participated in the exercise.
  • The ICG deployed surface as well as air platforms, including pollution response vessels, offshore patrol vessels, indigenous advanced light helicopter Mk-III, and Dornier aircraft configured for marine pollution response.
  • The event also showcased India’s industrial prowess in terms of the ‘Make in India’ thrust. The stakeholders like major ports also deployed their maritime assets for showcasing synergised efforts in combating marine pollution
  • The Indian Coast Guard functions as the central coordinating authority for response to oil spills in Indian waters. Indian Coast Guard assumed responsibilities for protecting the marine environment in the maritime zones of India on March 7, 1986, when these responsibilities were transferred from the Ministry of Shipping.
  • And subsequently, the coast guard’s prepared the NOSDCP for combating oil spill disasters at sea, which was approved by the Committee of Secretaries in 1993.Apart from drawing up the NOSDCP, the coast guard has established four pollution response centers at Mumbai, Chennai, Port Blair and Vadinar.
  • Calling for a robust national system for oil spill response as critical to India’s preparedness in Indian waters, Indeed, 75 per cent of India’s energy requirements are met by oil that is imported to our country by sea.
  • Oil transportation by ships is fraught with inherent risks and requires preventive measures to be taken, both by the ship owners as well as the oil receiving facilities inside the port. But the threat of oil pollution through maritime accidents and unforeseen perils of the sea persists.
  • Chaired by the Chief of the Indian Coast Guard, Director General Rakesh Pal, the NOSDCP and preparedness meeting was attended by more than 80 delegates from various ministries of the Indian Government, representatives of Ports and Oil Handling companies. The national capabilities and collective preparedness to respond to any oil spill contingency in Indian waters were reviewed during the meeting.
  • Director General Indian Coast Guard, who serves as the Chairman of NOSDCP, committed that the ICG is cognizant and prepared to counter the threats to the region and its resources, including marine oil and chemical spills at sea.
  • The stakeholders must recognise the opportunity to enhance cooperation through stronger partnerships, effective coordination and imbibing best practices of the developing technologies. He also stated that the Indian Coast Guard is indigenously building two more state-of-the-art Pollution Response Configured Specialized Vessels besides the three existing to further bolster Pollution Response Capacity.

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