NE divers undertake ‘beat plastic’ mission in Arabian Sea

GUWAHATI: A three-member deep sea divers’ team from Northeast has sent a strong message against environmental pollution by collecting plastic waste from the bed of the Arabian Sea.

The trio of Vikramjit Kakati (Assam), Angshuman Deb (Meghalaya) and Raju Ghosh (Tripura), all PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified scuba divers, undertook the mission at Bounty Bay, Goa during the last week of May.

“We dived about 63 feet below and collected about one and half kg of plastic waste scattered across a 500-metre area in about an hour. It was a small effort but the sample collected is indicative of the astonishingly high level of industrial pollution deposited by rivers into the Arabian Sea. Worse still, people mindlessly throw plastic into these rivers which adversely affects aquatic flora (coral reef, algae, etc) and fauna,” Kakati toldThe Shillong Times on Wednesday.

The team was provided base support by Scuba Evolution India, a Goa-based organisation.

Such is the level of pollution in the Arabian Sea that under-water visibility was reduced to as low as five feet.

“Unlike some other oceans, the high levels of river pollution have affected under-water visibility and therefore we had to restrict our mission to a limited area,” he said.

“But all said and done, there are only two ways to arrest plastic pollution – either stop throwing plastic into the rivers, which is the proper way, or to clean the rivers,” he added.

On plans to undertake such missions in rivers of the Northeast, Kakati said, “Yes, there are plans. But we have to be first trained in altitude diving as the rivers are above sea level. The mixture of nitrogen and oxygen is different in rivers above sea level

The United Nations has also warned that the growing levels of plastic waste were becoming unmanageable, saying “every year, more than eight million tons end up in the oceans.” 

It may be mentioned that last year’s World Environment Day theme was “beat plastic pollution”.  

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