There are a few answers that are needed. And the questions are being asked by the residents of Vasco, a town that is a ‘sitting time bomb’. The same residents also have a demand, and it is a demand that is being made considering their safety and that of the town.
There are a few answers that are needed. And the questions are being asked by the residents of Vasco, a town that is a ‘sitting time bomb’. The same residents also have a demand, and it is a demand that is being made considering their safety and that of the town. The questions are not new, and the silence that meets them is not new either. It is similar with the demand and it’s almost as if there is little concern for the people of the town, who in recent times have taken up the fight on various issues affecting their town.
Being debated now, are the dangers of the oil tanks that are situated in the heart of the port town of Vasco and have been brought up time and again, discussed and then set aside. The debate was reignited, by the fire at Butcher Island that was started in an oil tank off Mumbai, and likely by a lightning strike, though this is yet to be confirmed. Vasco residents want to know what are the safety measures that the town has in place in case of a similar fire here, where the oil tanks that are surrounded by habitation. The Mumbai fire was an eye- opener for the people of Vasco who asked on social media, whether after Mumbai, it would be the turn of Vasco.
There was some panic, and this takes one back to the time a few years ago when the town saw the naphtha fire. People started driving out of the town leading to the roads getting blocked. Imagine what can happen should there be a fire at the oil tanks, the panic that such a situation would create among the residents of the town.
Their demand is very simple – that the oil tanks be shifted to a safer environment and away from residential areas. The question being asked in this regard is: Why aren’t the oil tanks being shifted to a place outside the town? That is a question that the people of Vasco have been asking for a long time now, but receiving no answer. Instead, they allege, that there is a move to set up more tanks in the town and that MPT plans petrol, oil and lubricant berths just on the limits of the town. That is not a proposal that will give the residents of the town a good night’s sleep, not after they so unitedly have fought against coal pollution.
It is not just Vasco that is sitting on a time bomb that is just waiting to explode, but all of Mormugao could be in the danger zone, as the taluka houses almost all the major ‘accident hazard installations’ in the State. It’s got not just the oil tanks, but also the port, the airport and a naval armament depot. And nobody knows if there is a proper contingency plan in the taluka that could meet any major accident. What residents of the town do know is that the disaster management plan proven useless during the naphtha fire as there was little or no coordination between the agencies.
The need to find a solution to the oil tank locations in Vasco is pressing. These above ground oil storage tanks have to be shifted outside the town, preferably to a location that has no habitation, and where any accident can be controlled. In the meantime while that is being done, the town residents have to be made aware of the safety measures being taken, and also of the disaster management measures in place in case of a fire. This is urgent, as it involves not just environmental concerns, but human lives also.