Protesters arrested for demanding removal of ship beached in Goa

January 26th, 2009 - 1:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Jan 26 (IANS) Over 200 people including a legislator of the ruling Congress party were arrested Monday morning as they were marching towards this state capital to protest the government’s failure to remove a cargo ship which had run aground off Candolim eight years ago.Congress legislator Agnelo Fernandes, who was leading the protest, was booked under Section 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code (arrest to prevent commission of cognizable offences), along with his supporters.

Officials said that the arrests were carried out on the presumption that the protesters would have tried to disrupt the Republic Day celebrations in Panaji, which was attended by the governor and the chief minister.

Fernandes told reporters that they demanded that the ship be towed away without delay, as the “MV River Princess is an ecological disaster waiting to happen”.

The legislator said they had not intended to disrupt Republic Day proceedings and had only planned a peaceful sit-in.

“We only had placards and this was supposed to be a peaceful protest,” he said.

Various reports by government agencies have warned of serious environmental consequences, as well as an economic fall-out if the MV River Princess continues to remain off the picturesque Sinquerim-Baga beach stretch.

Marine scientists have expressed fears of a fast erosion of the famed beach stretch, if the ship is not removed soon.

The tourism industry has also warned that disintegration of the ship would cause tremendous pollution, in turn triggering a loss of tourism revenue, as the coastal strip is regarded as the nerve centre of beach tourism in Goa.

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