Protesters form human chain to demand removal of beached ship

February 15th, 2009 - 11:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Feb 15 (IANS) Hundreds of people formed a human chain at Candolim, in North Goa Sunday evening, to demand the removal of a cargo ship which had beached off Candolim nine years ago.

The human chain protesters comprised of local residents, activists, local ruling Congress party legislator Agnelo Fernandes as well as tourists, who joined the demonstrators impromptu.

“I am embarrassed to face the people because my government is unable to do anything to get rid of the MV River Princess,” Fernandes said.

“How many times do we have to take to the roads before this government opens its eyes and acts?” Fernandes asked.

Former convener of the Goa Bachao Abhiyaan (GBA) Oscar Rebello said that people should raise the tempo of public protests and enter into a direct dialogue with the government.

“Lets not wait for them to act. Form a panel of experts and come up with ideas and then ram them down the government’s throat, until they decide to do something,” Rebello said.

Aushim Das, a middle-aged tourist from Orissa, who joined the human chain, said he had not expected a ship of this size grounded on such a beautiful beach for nearly a decade, with no effort being made to salvage it.

“Imagine what would happen to the beach if it comes apart. Goa is most famous for its beaches. They should not be allowed to ruin it like this,” said Das, who took the evening off from his tourism itinerary, to join the protest.

Various reports by government agencies have warned of serious environmental and economic fall-outs if the MV River Princess continues to haunt the picturesque Sinquerim-Baga beach stretch.

Marine scientists have also expressed fears of fast erosion of the famed beach stretch if the ship is not removed soon. The ship has already eroded 1.1 km of the beach stretch.

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 Goan beach tourism.

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