Hurdles cleared to refloat River Princess

| 20 September 2002 22:04 IST

Comes the third tourism season and the grounded ship MV River Princess is still lying off Goa beach to welcome the tourists.

The only good news is that the state authorities are now almost relieved from all the legal hassles, except a petition filed in the high court by the local Candolim village panchayat.

The Goa government has adopted a tough approach, not to break the ship in the sea but to try and refloat it, so that it could be towed away, avoiding any kind of pollution on the coast.

With the ship being grounded hardly 200 metres away from the famous Candolim-Calangute-Baga stretch of the beach two years ago, any attempt to break the ship would obviously cause environmental hazard and severe damage to Goa’s tourism.

Putting an end to all the legal hassles, the tourism director has thus rejected the scheme proposed by the ship owner Anil Salgaoncar to cut the River Princess into pieces and transport it landwards.

“Forget actually cutting the ship”, states tourism director N Suryanarayan, “the very idea of cutting the ship will drive away tourists from Goa”.

The ship grounded with a ruptured bottom has already caused one oil spill earlier while the authorities still do not rule out the possibility of more oil spilling out if the issue is not handled with utmost care.

While the high court order on the issue is now expected next week, the state is planning to invite tenders on refloating the ship. “We can definitely tow it away seawards without causing any damage to the tourism”, states chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

Though stated, refloating the ship and towing it away is a real challenge before the authorities as some renowned firms had already withdrawn earlier, expressing their inability to refloat it. The ore carrier has developed cracks on the hull structure as well as bottom of the vessel.

However, even if the high court passes the order next week, the authorities doubt whether the actual work of refloating the ship would begin by October end, which is the beginning of the peak season of Goan tourism.

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