Captain of Ports had suggested bringing in vessel after Sept 15; Had warned that any eventuality could disrupt movement of vessels from Panjim Port
PANJIM: Now under severe criticism from the High Court of Bombay at Goa and State Government for its high-handed attitude and hasty move in bringing the vessel Lucky 7 in River Mandovi, it has come to light that Golden Globe Hotels Pvt Ltd’s (GGHPL) had blatantly violated conditions laid down by the Captain of Ports (CoP) Department.
Herald is in possession of a copy of the letter dated July 4, 2017 wherein CoP had demanded that the firm comply with various conditions before leaving Mormugao Port Trust (MPT). The two-page letter, copies of which was marked to the Advocate General of Goa, Secretary Ports and OSD to Chef Minister, had also advised that the vessel commence its movement in the waters only after Panjim port is open for operations, which means after September 15.
“…you are required to have certified/competent crew on board, an experienced pilot to navigate the vessel from Mormugao Port Trust to the anchorage point in Mandovi River, three tugs to be placed, one at the forward end of 30 to 35 Bollard pull not less than 12 tons, the complete details of the tugs along with their Registration Certificates, Survey Certificates and other statutory certificates, including insurance copy, to be submitted before the manoeuvre and have the three tugs available for inspection prior to manoeuvre,” states the strongly-worded letter by CoP James Braganza.
However, the company took the instructions lightly and produced only two tug boats for inspection of which one did not comply with the conditions. The third tug boat did not turn up for inspection. GGHPL, adamant on bringing the vessel in Mandovi River, defied weather warnings including that if stranded, it could block navigation of other vessels.
“There is a lot of risk involved which may even cease the EXIM Cargo Trade from Panjim Port including any other vessels transiting in the river, in case of any eventualities; hence it is advised to navigate with extreme caution. It is strongly suggested that the vessel be brought in Mandovi River once the Panjim Port is open whereby the Aguada sand bar depths will be restored to normal permissible depths, which will permit the vessel to navigate safely and also have favourable weather conditions,” the letter had stated.
“The maneuvering operation is exclusively subject to weather permitting and at your own risk and costs for any eventualities and damage that may occur to environment, endangering life of crew members and other lives which could lead to death which cannot be compensated including loss of property,” it added.
The result of defying the conditions was that not just that the ropes parted, one of the anchors of the vessel broke, leaving it stuck in the sand bar. After remaining aground for three days, the vessel drifted to Miramar beach on July 16 and is grounded there since then. Three to four crew members were also injured of whom some suffered sea sickness and were airlifted with the help of the Coast Guard.
“Fortunately, it did not land on a navigational route, which could have blocked the other vessels transiting, and adding to the disaster,” an expert told Herald.
The department now awaits a report about its plan of action in removing the ship from Miramar beach, appointment of a salvor (though the Dubai firm is nearly confirmed) and assessment of the vessel. The experts from the international company from whom the Kanda-owned firm had purchased the vessel for around Rs 12 crore, held a meeting with the CoP officials explaining the manner in which the vessel will be towed.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Goa Tourism Development Corporation, Nilesh Cabral, has discussed the issue of the grounding of the vessel with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. “I have told the CM that the beach is getting destroyed. They will take action,” he said.