Beached dredger still remains at Surathkal; owner served notice

NMPT chairman says earnest steps are being taken to remove the vessel

Bhagwati Prem, a dredging vessel that was beached at the Surathkal Beach by New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) on October 28 night, remains there itself waiting to be towed away even as the trust says that it has served notice on its owner seeking removal of the vessel.

Port chairman A.V. Ramana told that vessel owner, Mercator, has been given a week to inspect the vessel to assess the damage to undertake repairs before towing it away. He has informed the Director General of Shipping too in the matter.

The chairman said that Mercator has replied to NMPT stating that it would send a team to inspect the vessel and later carry out repairs before towing the dredger out.

Meanwhile, NMPT has requested a team of Deputy Conservators of Cochin and Mumbai Port Trusts for a report on the condition of the beached dredger, Mr. Ramana said.

These inspections, the chairman said, would be followed by a public notice in newspapers by NMPT before it went ahead with the auction process by a government auctioneer. “Of course, auction would take place if Mercator fails to tow away the dredger,” he said.

Bhagwati Prem that was anchored within NMPT limits after the trust terminated the contract for dredging with Mercator reported issues of water logging during the end of October.

Upon inspection, it was found that the vessel’s hull had been damaged and there was a threat of the vessel getting flooded.

Since the weather was rough and the West Coast was witnessing frequent cyclones, NMPT decided to beach the vessel to prevent its possible sinking, and completed the work on October 28.

Experts from College of Fisheries, Mangaluru, have cautioned that there coudl be irreparable damage to the coastline and environment if the vessel was not towed away immediately. The chances of beach erosion are high, while fishermen in the region would get affected, they had said. The vessel should not be allowed to remain in Surathkal, the experts had said.

Another dredger of Mercator, Tridev Prem, that was also anchored in NMPT limits, sunk on September 2 and is yet to be salvaged.