Raising concern over threat to the coastal eco-system, Union minister of environment and forests Jayanthi Natarajan on Thursday said there are more than 40 ships stranded off the Mumbai coast and a few of them contain polluting material.
Presiding over a meeting to review mitigation and response mechanism for scenarios involving stranded ships, collisions and oil spills, Natarajan sought the feasibility of invoking criminal action against the owners of such vessels.
"I have been informed that the movements of all these vessels are being closely monitored," she said.
The coast guard blamed the state for not taking criminal action against errant ship owners, but state environmental department officials denied the charge.
Repairs begin on MT Pratibha Tapi Director general of shipping Gautam Chatterjee said that according to the Bombay high court order of June 18, the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) submitted its report approving the towing plan for Pratibha Tapi, a 24,000-tonne oil tanker anchored 2.5 nautical miles from the Madh shore, the next day. "The repair work on board MT Pratibha Tapi has started," he added.
"The repair work began only after the IRS submitted its report and the court gave its nod for the same. Four crews, bunkers, generators have been sent on board," said Prakash Ashar, solicitor for Crawford Bayley and Company for Hong Kong-based shipping company Best Oasis Ltd. Ashar said the repairs will last for three to four days before the vessel is ready to sail out of Madh Island.
2 yrs after rescuing stranded ship, firm awaits payment
During the meeting, officials from the shipping ministry pointed out that Great Offshore, which had undertaken the salvage operations for MT Pavit at its behest, was yet to be paid Rs 4 crore. The merchant tanker had run aground off the Juhu coast in 2011.
State officials reasoned that the vessel was yet to be auctioned. The government has put a reserve price of Rs 4 crore for the auction, but is yet to find a responsive bidder.
Director general of shipping, Gautam Chatterjee informed the minister that tugboats are being used to prevent MT Pratibha Tapi and MT Pratibha Indrayani from drifting towards the coastline any further. "He gave an assurance that the matter is well in hand," said an official.
The oil tankers MT Pratibha Tapi and MT Pratibha Indrayani, belonging to the Pratibha Shipping Co Ltd, had been anchored 11 nautical miles (20km) from the Mumbai shore since December 2012, when the firm ran into financial problems. The ships had been put under arrest, after an HC order in January 2013, when the owner failed to settle the maritime board’s claims. Last week, MT Pratibha Tapi drifted towards Madh Island and threatened to run aground.