Sunday 15 September 2019

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Society | Environment

One ship sunk, other may sink tourism

 

Danger to the Goan coast is partially averted as floating portion of Singapore ship is finally sunk down the sea. But the one-year old grounded ship continues to pose threat of another oil spillage.

The naval authorities today morning managed to blast the floating portion of MT Heu Sen, the Singapore-based crude carrier, by dropping depth chargers from the helicopter and sink the remaining half of the ship 150 metres down the sea.

The ship had broken into two pieces on 12 June midnight due to a blast, leaving three dead while 37 crew members were rescued while it was going to UAE for reloading.

The Coast Guard however now seems to be worried about the deteriorating condition of MV River Princess, the ore carrier, which is grounded hardly 100 metres away from the Goan coastline at the Candolim-Calangute-Baga stretch.

In spite of the Coast Guard authorities expressing its helplessness in case of yet another oil spillage, the state authorities are busy passing the buck, claiming that they cannot do much about cutting of the plates.

In a strongly worded letter written to the north district magistrate, Coast Guard Comdt V S R Murthy has requested them to act immediately as the ship has developed two sq mts of hole due to cutting of plates.

Comdt Murthy suspects that the plates are being cut intentionally at the water line so that it may further damage the vessel and reduce the chances of re-floating it. "It may also lead to oil pollution as the ship may still contain substantive quantity of oil", he states.

Anil Salgaoncar, the ship owner and an influential mine owner in the state, has refused to toe the ship away while the state has opposed his plan to break it on the shore, due to damage it would cause to the tourism industry.

Sanjiv Khirwar, the district magistrate, has already intimated the state pollution control board, the science and technology department as well as the police to take action in terms of patching up the hole.

But none of these authorities are moving firmly, claiming that they have no much power in such cases. Meanwhile, condition of the ship is getting deteriorated further while nobody knows how much oil it still contains.

"If the ship breaks, we will immediately book the owner under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act", states Khirwar. The Coast Guard, on the other hand, states it would not be able to stop spillage by putting booms. Even spraying the oil spill dispersant by helicopter may not be possible in case of rough monsoon weather.

The process of floating global tender for toeing the ship away along with its sale is presently stalled by the district court, while allowing only toeing it away. The state now plans to challenge it in the high court next week.

Meanwhile, Smit International, a Singapore-based firm selected for toeing away job, has also withdrawn from the work due to bad monsoon weather. The tender was awarded for Rs 13 crore.

Meanwhile, if the ship breaks, the cost of salvage would be much more than the actual cost of the ship, states Khirwar. The future of Goa's tourism industry however hangs in between, hoping that bad weather does not break the ship.






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