Mickky clears decks to remove River Princess

| 30 July 2002 22:39 IST

Decks are cleared for the tourism department here to begin the process of removing the grounded ship River Princess, which has been lying off the Goan beach in a prime tourist area for the last three years.

State tourism minister Mickky Pacheco has dismissed the appeal made by Salgaoncar Mining Industries Pvt Ltd, challenging the removal process. He has now directed the tourism director to go ahead with the removal formalities.

The 26-meter long ore carrier got drifted away from the Mormugao harbour on a stormy night of 6 June 2000 and got grounded off Candolim beach in North Goa (part of famous Calangute-Baga stretch) with a ruptured bottom, hardly 100 metres away, causing nuisance to the tourism industry.

It also created panic with oil spillage being witnessed soon after monsoons, though lots of oil was later removed from the ship. Due to cracks being developed on the hull structure and bottom of the vessel, refloating and towing it away has now become a new challenge for the authorities.

Since Anil Salgaoncar, one of the leading local industrialist and the ship owner, had remained reluctant on towing away the ship initially, the issues went into the state fighting series of legal battles. To overcome this, the BJP government finally got a special legislation passed in September last year, authorising the state to confiscate such a nuisance and remove it.

Under the provisions of the same act, Salgaoncar once again made an appeal before the tourism minister, challenging tourism director's notice to submit a concrete plan of removal of the ship.

While dismissing the appeal, Pacheco has accepted tourism department's contention that the ship is not only causing nuisance to the famous tourist place but may also cause further oil spillage.

He has also dismissed owner's contention that the ship cannot be refloated due to the cracks, while accepting the expert committee's report that towing it away is possible. The owner however was planning to break it on the beach, which the tourism industry had strongly objected to.

While dismissing the appeal, the minister has now told the tourism director to get the original ownership documents produced from Salgaoncar. Following this, the director will once again ask the owner to submit the removal plan, failing which it will be confiscated by the department to begin the removal process.

While this whole process will definitely take much longer period, it is crystal clear that the ship will continue to stand there as a nuisance even in the coming tourist season, beginning from October. The department has to thus only try and refloat it before the fourth monsoon season arrives in June next year.

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The road from Belgaum to Goa via Ponda is so dusty and filled with thousands of mining trucks-wonder whether anybody-leave alone the govt. as they must all be well greased cares for the hapless citizen people who take at least 6 hrs to reach there from Belgaum or back.

- Tony b, Belgaum | 07 th May 2011 16:17

 

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