Monday, August 9, 2010

Mumbai oil spill - spill the beans

View - It has been the talk of the nation and thankfully not overshadowed by that of the commonwealth games fiasco that has gained media frenzy for a while now. It came across as a small news piece a couple of days back covering how 2 ships collided a few nautical miles off the Mumbai coastline. Then the coverage started growing by the day. And today, everybody is talking about it. Media, state government, central government, PMO, Mumbaiites, Navy, Coast Guard et al.

I want to bring out something that I am sure the environment pundits, the media and a lot others may have thought about (I am very sure about their capability to think in terms of anything to do with "conspiracy"). Before I pen down my thoughts to build on the nexus of people who may be involved, let me first put down the events for all to relate to things. And these events may date back to more than a couple of days even years of the shipwreck.
  • Mumbai airport at Santacruz is one of the busiest airports in the country
  • The perimeter of Mumbai airport at Santacruz is filled with illegitimate shanties
  • State and central governments have tried (its a pun) their best to raze the illegal shanties but their constant efforts didnt bear any fruit
  • The government and the bureaucracy gave up and decided to declare all shanties in Mumbai built before 1995, legitimate. These include those that surround one of the country's busiest airport
  • Government now realized the fact that Mumbai airport is over burdened with incoming and outgoing air traffic of passengers and cargo and need to look at alternatives
  • Airport modernization is thought of and started. Still they realize (pun intended) modernization cannot accomodate all the existing pressures on the airport
  • Decision to have a second airport in Mumbai is taken and the place is finalized in Navi Mumbai (this plot is not far away from the JNPT).
By now you must be thinking what relevance it has got to do with the current Oil spill in Mumbai, that is creating an environmental disaster. Though not as grave as that created in the Gulf of Mexico.

Well you forgot, this is a conspiracy theory. So how does this relate? Read on:
  • For some time the new airport land is kept untouched and the public doesnt even know that there was any such plan and land allocated for such purpose. Only the localites may be knowing.
  • Suddenly now it becomes important that we need to construct the new airport (it means we need to make money)
  • So the aviation ministry is all gung ho about this project and is starting to take all required approvals from all related departments. (Not sure what stopped them from taking this approval for so many years?)
  • All is well until the central environment ministry (certain people) objected to it, citing grave environmental setbacks. Not sure where this ministry was sleeping till now. (Read they wanted to figure out a way to make money)
It will be worthwhile to note that the allotted land is indeed an environmentally important land as it constitutes critical and vast patches of mangroves, salt pans, lush green surrounding, hillocks and small river pockets. So the logic on which the environment ministry is holding its ground is actually correct. But wait, you forgot they too want to figure out a way to maximize their vested interests (am sure you all know what this means).
  • So all hold their ground and all try to gain media and public attention (this is needed because for the story to be successful, one needs audience!)
  • Environment ministry is against eroding the environment and hence crical for city and public. Aviation ministry is doing something for the betterment of the city and the public. Result status quo.
  • Both now need to figure out an approach to reach a solution.
  • 2 ships collide. Of these 2 ships, one has had a recent history of collision in the same waters! It still collides with a ship that is carrying tons of gallons of oil and other harmful material. The collision happens in the surrounding close to the proposed airport (other areas is coincidental! or may be vice versa!)
  • This will surely corrode the nearby land, mangroves, aquamarine life etc. Situation is perfectly created for these things to get impacted in the coming months and the proposed land and the surrounding area being declared arid. Yes of course due to the Oil spill.
  • Routes are clear for the airport to go ahead as per plan. Only it took a long time.
So was this Oil spill a result of a sabotage? May be, may not be. Who did it? Those who wanted the airport? This might be straight forward but quite possible that the other ministry suggested this approach. After all we believe in unity!

Contrarian view - But now you will think this may not be possible because the governments were different in this span of 15 years. Well my question to you folks is: Do you really believe that 2 different parties/ governments cant be the players on the same side in a conspiracy? Please remember, money is amassed not by being at loggerheads with opposition; but showing the public that they are at loggerheads!

Let me now put a different spin to it: On one hand is the Amit Shah case that has engulfed Gujarat government and hence one party is in the dark here. So does this party get one up on the other? Get CWG fiasco in the public domain making the other party take 2 steps back. This way, keep creating counter maligning strategy to remain in power and ensure that all involved are allowed to do what they want & earn.
Dont be surprised if soon both the Amit Shah case and the CWG fiasco die their own death. Afterall, the human mind is very forgiving and ........ forgetting.

These are purely my views and based on my understanding and the data that I have read/ searched online. Inconsistencies and incorrections are apologized. This piece of blog writing is purely fictional and does not bear resemblance to anybody/ anything.

Jaydeep Deshpande