Salgaoncar agrees to clear oil spillage

| 08 September 2000 23:05 IST

Fearing intensification of ongoing oil spillage of a grounded ship off Sinquerim beach in North Goa affecting the tourism season beginning next month, the state authorities have now woken up from deep sleep, pulling up sleeves to take up remedial measures on war footing.

The 240 metre-long ore carrier, bought by Salgaoncar Shipping to rebuild as a transhipper, had drifted away with rough heavy winds on 6 June, after being anchored in one place for one and a half year, when monsoons created havoc along the Goan coast in the first week of June.

In spite of local hoteliers including the Fort Aguada Beach Resort bringing to the notice of the authorities the ecological danger it poses, none of the authorities dared to instruct Anil Salgaoncar to take steps to avoid any kind of environmental damage in spite of the law being quite strict in this regard.

However, after three long months, Salgaoncar has now agreed to act simultaneously on three different fronts to minimise the damage it has already caused due to oil spillage, which was visibly noticed by the Coast Guard helicopter on Tuesday. The Coast Guard had then immediately sprayed chemical dispersant on the beach.

Following personal visits by chief minister Francisco Sardinha and tourism minister Victoria Fernandes on Thursday, a joint meeting of all the concerned authorities and Salgaoncar convened by Sardinha today appears to have borne fruits as the ship owner has agreed to act fast.

"As the law provides that steps should be taken by the ship owner and not the government, Mr Salgaoncar has agreed to take concrete steps with the technical help from the Coast Guard", said Ashok Kumar, who is presently holding charge of the chief secretary.

Besides cleaning up the whole beachfront full with oil patches in a scientific manner, Salgaoncar has also given in writing to begin the work of plugging the leakage from Tuesday onwards. "The engine room is presently flooded with water", said Kumar.

The work of shifting of the oil from tanks however would begin only from 18 September, says Kumar, as per the agreement reached at the meeting. While nobody knows authentically the amount of oil it contains, the Coast Guard presumes it should not be less than 45 KL.

Surprisingly, the meeting however has not discussed anything about salvaging the ship, which is grounded on a sand bar and reportedly is not in a condition to be towed away. As Salgaoncar is equally influential in political circles here, even the bureaucrats prefer to maintain silence over it.

Exactly six years after the oil-carrying 'M V Sea Transporter' was grounded off the Sinquerim beach, the 'River Princess' owned by Salgaoncar Shipping has drifted away to the same area. The Coast Guard had emptied all the oil tanks in 1996, avoiding any kind of ecological disaster along Goa's famous beachline, from Sinquerim to Baga including Calangute.

Also claiming to have been ranking second in the car market after Maruti by achieving sale of 1.25 lakh last year, Subbu informed that following Santro, its new model Accent is also well-received in the export market, including the SAARC countries and South East Asian countries including Indonesia and Malaysia.

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