PALGHAR, VASAI FISHERMEN PROTEST ONGC SEISMIC SURVEY

MUMBAI :Fishermen from Vasai, Palghar, Dahanu and other parts of Palghar district have opposed the annual 56 day seismic oil survey by the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) to be conducted in the above areas  in Palghar coastal district. The survey to start from 1 January to 25 Februrary 2019, and the fishermen have alleged that the ONGC did not give prior intimation to the annual survey and the ONGC guards onboard the seismic vessel prevent them from fishing. The fishermen said  the ONGC could have  postponed the survey to a later date, when there is no fishing season from 15 May to 15 August when the State issues a ban on fishing due to the monsoon. But the ONGC are going ahead with the survey, and destroying our livelihood,said fishermen.

The ONGC are conducting the survey in Palghar coastal district, as part of seismic oil survey from early January till 25 February 2019. The survey will be conducted in mid Arabian Sea, some 50 nautical miles (1 nautical mile = 1.8 kms) from Palghar coast. Hence, the ONGC has banned fishing during the period, but Narendra Patil of Maharashtra Machimar Kriti Samiti (a federation of fish cooperative societies) has said the ONGC could have easily post pone the survey during the no fishing season beginning from May till August, as January month is our peak fishing season and fishermen would be jobless if the fishing is banned. We do not want to block the ONGC in its survey,as it is a national project for oil sources,and we welcome the same, but the ONGC should also understand our problems,said Ravindra Mhatre, member of the Samiti. Earlier, when Ram Naik was the then Union Minister for Petroleum, the ONGC would prior inform us months in advance and a committee would also would be formed with representation from the fishing community, but this year, the ONGC have went ahead and conducted the survey,said Mhatre.

As per information, the ONGC would be using  its own research vessel which will be hauled by three pairs of 6 km long cables. Said Hitendra Naik, another fisherman member of the Samiti, during the last survey, done earlier, fishing implements and nets were destroyed and the ONGC did not compensate us for the losses, so why the  hurry by the ONGC.Further, through the media we came to know about the survey as the ONGC could have given us prior intimation,said Mhatre.

The fishing community is facing losses due to the seismic survey by the ONGC, and there is no talk of compensating the losses incurred,said Mhatre. Due to the seismic survey, the hearing abilities of marine products gets impaired, due to the continuous work, and results in deaths of fish,said Patil and we cannot fish until the survey is completed,which is now scheduled to end sometime in late February.Due to the survey,  recent cases of whales, propoise and other marine products, being washed ashore is a classic example of the ONGC survey,where fish die,as during the survey, airguns are used to shoot compressed air to the seabed, creating sound waves that map oil and gas sources,said Mhatre. This survey goes on for months, and the blast is of high decible sometime in the range of 252dB which is nearly a lakh time louder than a jet aircraft,which echoes through the Arabian Sea and hurts the hearing organs of the fish products,said Mhatre. The ONGC could have clearly postponed the survey during the no fishing season (i.e. between May to August) so that our livelihood is not affected,he said.