Congress has a ship of a problem in North Goa

March 15th, 2009 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, March 15 (IANS) Inhabitants of the touristy coastal resort of Candolim in Goa have threatened to boycott the Lok Sabha elections if the ship MV River Princess, which has been beached there for nearly nine years, is not towed away soon.
The decision comes after a meeting by the River Princess Hatao Manch (RPHM), a pressure group formed by the villagers of Candolim, to force the government to move the cargo ship which had run aground on Candolim beach in 2000.

Agnelo Fernandes, the Congress MLA from Calangute, of which Candolim is part, said he was ashamed to face the people because the state’s coalition government led by his party was not taking any sincere measure to tow away the ship.

“The people of Candolim will not cooperate with the elections this time. They have a right not to cooperate. The government is doing nothing about the MV River Princess and the bureaucracy too is refusing to budge,” said Fernandes, who is part of the RPHM. Candolim falls in the North Goa parliamentary constituency.

Fermino Fernandes, the convenor of RPHM, said: “We want to warn them that historically the voters of Candolim have been sympathetic to the Congress. We will deprive the Congress candidates of these votes, if they do nothing about the beached ship now.”

Blaise Fernandes, the spokesperson of the RPHM, said the ship should at least be notified as a state disaster as tourist traffic to Candolim had gone down due to the presence of the ship on the beach.

“The place is unsafe for swimming. A large section of the beach has already been washed away because of the presence of the MV River Princess. Last week a couple of shacks built on sand dunes came down because of sand erosion,” Blaise said.

The National Institute of Oceanography in a report said that nearly 1.1 km of the Candolim beach had already got eroded as the presence of the ship had changed the wave patterns. The deputy collector has urged the ministry of tourism to remove MV River Princess “at the earliest to avoid loss of property and life”.

The state government’s Water Resources Department has also warned of steady erosion of the coastline if there is further delay in towing away the vessel, which is owned by a powerful mining magnate.

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