Efforts underway to clear stranded ship from Mumbai beach

August 2nd, 2011 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 2 (IANS) Insurance companies, salvagers and owners of the stranded Panama-flagged oil tanker M.T. Pavit have arrived here to discuss ways to either salvage or refloat the vessel, stuck on the Versova Beach in north-west Mumbai, a top maritime official said here Tuesday.

“The unmanned vessel’s position is being continuously monitored by the concerned maritime agencies and so far, no oil spill has been noticed nor does it pose any environmental threat,” Director-General of Shipping S.B. Agnihotri assured here Tuesday evening.

A preliminary investigation of the vessel by one of the salvage companies also revealed that there is no damage to the ship’s hull which is intact. However, the engine room is filled with sea water upto its cylinders.

The Indian Coast Guard and Maharashtra Maritime Board have also said that no oil pollution has been noticed in and around the ship since Sunday when it drifted here from the Arabian Sea.

The vessel is currently stuck in the soft beach sands. Hordes of Mumbaikars walk up to it and touch the huge 70-metre long ship which is now slightly tilted due to lashing by the sea waves.

Agnihotri said that efforts are underway to move an emergency towing vessel, Smit Lumba, stationed around 1-2 nautical miles from the stranded M.T. Pavit since Monday, closer to the vessel.

He said that the owners/managers of the vessel, M/s. Prime Tankers, Dubai, have also arrived here and the DGS has directed them to finalise their plans to either salvage or refloat and remove the ship from Mumbai coast as it was posing a serious public nuisance.

Agnihotri said that in case they fail to respond, the DGS would invoke Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, Sec. 356K to carry out the salvage operations and recover the costs from M/s. Prime Tankers, Dubai.

Besides, he added that the concerned authorities in Panama and the coastal authority in Oman have been informed that the vessel has not sunk, as earlier presumed.

They have been requested to investigate the matter under the relevant international laws and share the findings in respect of safety of navigation and other related issues with the Indian maritime authorities.

The Mumbai Police lodged a FIR against the ship Monday under the Indian Penal Code Sec. 336 and the district administration has been asked to invoke Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Sec. 133 since M.T. Pavit has become a public nuisance.

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