Tar balls coat Goa’s beaches again; will be cleared in 2 days: Minister

The menace of tar balls is back on Goa’s beaches, Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has said.

More than a year after tar balls — greasy blobs of thick weathered oil that washes ashore — plagued the state’s coastline, the phenomenon appears to have invaded several beaches in the state over the last 24 hours, including the Anjuna beach in North Goa and Majorda beach in South Goa.

Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has said that his Ministry had given instructions to ensure that the tar balls are cleared off the beaches within two days.

“The beaches should be clean. Beaches are our world famous tourism spots. I do not want to see any garbage on the beaches. We are in the process of clearing it. It will be done within two days. The tar balls were in a large quantity this time,” Ajgaonkar said.

The emergence of tar balls on Goa’s beaches is a seasonal phenomenon, which occurs during the monsoon season.

According to marine scientists the semi-solid tar bars are created when oil discharged in the sea mixes with the salty water and undergoes a weathering process, which leads to formation of tar balls.

Last year, Goa’s Environment Minister Nilesh Cabral had said that the origin of the tar balls were linked to oil discharged at Bombay High, a floating oil field off Mumbai.

Cabral had also said that his Ministry had written to the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests and urged the latter to examine ways and means to tackle the polluting phenomenon, which damages the state’s beaches, which are a major tourism attraction.

The tar-ball menace on beaches peaked in 2011, with the state government directing the Indian Coast Guard to crackdown on ships dumping their ballast off Goa, but it had not yielded the anticipated results.

Tourism industry stakeholders in the state have repeatedly urged the Goa government to take up the matter with the central authorities in order to ensure permanent solution to the menace to beaches, which are a top draw as far as the tourism industry in the state is concerned.