Naphtha tanker salvaging operation off Goa delayed further

Panaji, Nov 13 : The finalisation of a professional firm to salvage a naphtha-laden tanker which ran aground off the Goa coast here, last month, may take a week more, a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office said on Wednesday.

The statement comes a day after Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had maintained that the tender would be finalised and all modalities would be worked out by Wednesday.

The communique also said that while two companies had bid for salvaging the unmanned tanker Nu Shi Nalini, one of the bidders had withdrawn, with a Dutch company Marine Masters BV being the only one left in the fray.

"The work will be awarded to a 'professional salvor' after approval of Committee's recommendation by the inter-ministerial committee at Government of India level, possibly within a week," the statement said.

The five-member panel includes officials of the Director General (Shipping), Goa Chief Secretary among others which had been appointed to finalise a professional salvor for tackling the crisis posed by the grounded ship.

"After inspecting the ship, two international salvage firms finally participated in the bid process viz.

M/s SMIT Salvage Pte Ltd., Singapore and M/s Marine Masters B.V. However, M/s SMIT Salvage Pte Ltd. finally backed out," the statement also said.

The unmanned tanker Nu Shi Nalini ran aground on October 26 on the rocky shelf off Panaji near Raj Bhavan -- the official residence of the Governor -- after it was caught in a storm off the state, and has not moved position since.

A multi-agency operation, involving the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, DG (Shipping), the Mormugao Port Trust and other state agencies, was subsequently launched to transfer the naphtha and nearly 50 tons of oil and 19 tons of diesel to other vessels.

The joint operation, however, failed on account of stormy weather and a minor accident resulted in the vessel continuing to pose a threat to the coastal area on account of its hazardous cargo.

The Goa-based Port Trust now maintains that the bottom of the tanker is likely to give way and the coastline of Goa is now under ecological threat on account of the vessel's cargo.

The Opposition has strongly criticised Sawant for not being firm enough in his resolve to tackle the crisis as well as punish those responsible for putting Goa at ecological risk.



Source: IANS