Court case blocks beached ship’s removal, says Goa government

January 27th, 2009 - 10:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Jan 27 (IANS) In response to renewed pressure from civil society groups to remove the cargo ship which ran aground off the popular Candolim beach eight years ago, the Goa tourism department, which is empowered to remove the vessel, said it could not take any action as the matter was before the court.Speaking to reporters Tuesday evening, the state’s director of tourism Swapnil Naik said that while there was no doubt that the beached MV River Princess had to be removed, the government was not in a position to do much as the matter was ’sub judice’.

“Jaisu Shipping Company Pvt Ltd, which was appointed by the state government to salvage the ship, could not execute the task. We had referred the matter to the arbiter and now the matter is pending before the district court,” he said.

The court has asked the government not to take any further decision, including initiating a re-tendering process, until its decision, Naik added.

The state government had also approached the Goa bench of Bombay High Court and a notice had been issued to the shipping company, he added.

Several government agencies, including the state water resources department and the district administration have warned of serious environmental consequences if the cargo ship, which is owned by local mining magnate and independent legislator Anil Salgaonkar, was not removed.

Marine scientists at the National Institute of Oceanography, in a detailed study of the shoreline over the last four years, concluded that nearly 1.1 km of the most popular beach stretch in Goa from Sinquerim to Baga has already eroded.

The tourism industry too has expressed apprehension that the disintegration of the ship would cause tremendous pollution, in turn triggering a loss of tourism revenue.

On Jan 26, ruling Congress party legislator from Calangute Agnelo Fernandes was arrested with nearly 200 odd supporters during a protest march against the government’s inability to remove the beached ship.

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