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'Stricken naphtha-laden tanker biggest problem for Goa'

November 14, 2019 01:51 PM

PANAJI:The ecological risk posed by a naphtha-laden tanker which ran aground off the coast here last month, poses the "biggest problem" for the state, but not enough has been done to address the issue, South Goa Congress MP Francisco Sardinha said on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference at the party's headquarters here, Sardinha also demanded action against officials at the Mormugao Port Trust, Goa's only major port facility, for allowing the unmanned tanker to anchor off the state's coastline, especially when weather forecasts had already indicated the onset of Cyclone 'Kyarr'.

"Right now, the biggest problem which the state is facing is the naphtha tanker. It has to be removed. Those who are responsible for this, should not just be suspended, but be put behind bars. I will raise the issue with the Centre also, " the Lok Sabha MP told reporters.

"Not only locals, I am also scared that something wrong may happen. That is why criminal action should be taken against the chairman of the port trust for allowing that ship to berth inside the harbour first and later in the seas off Goa. Everybody is scared that something may go wrong. Everything, including the fish in these seas will get destroyed, especially near the mouth of the Mandovi river, " he added.

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.

While Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has maintained that the tanker and its contents are safe, the Mormugao Port Trust last week informed the Bombay High Court that the bottom of the tanker could give way, leading to an ecological crisis in the sea off Goa.

Sawant on Wednesday had maintained that a Dutch salvaging firm had been identified by Director General (Shipping) and that salvaging operations would begin soon.

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