Bhagvati Prem unlikely to be removedfrom Surathkal till after monsoon

Dredging vessel Bhagvati Prem that was beached by New Mangalore Port Trust on Surathkal beach on October 28 last year is likely to remain there at least till after the monsoon.

The vessel, owned by Mercator and deployed for dredging NMPT waters earlier, began witnessing flooding in its engine room. NMPT pulled the vessel and beached it to avoid its sinking on the lines of another dredger Tridev Prem owned by Mercator, that sunk 2.5 nautical miles away from the shore on September 3, 2019.

Auctioning process

The owner of the vessels reportedly did not respond to notices by NMPT and Director General of Shipping to safely remove both the vessels. Consequently, NMPT is in the process of auctioning Bhagvati Prem that has been beached.

NMPT Chairman A.V. Ramana told The Hindu that the public notice for auction of the vessel was issued a month ago. The reserve price too has been finalised. Government auctioneer MSTC would conduct the auction, he said and added that the situation arising out of COVID-19 had delayed the process. Now, things are on track, he said.

The 114-metre-long, 21-metre-wide Bhagvati Prem with a deadweight of 9,492 tonnes and a draft of 7 metres, was beached on the Surathkal beach as NMPT said that the area belonged to the Port. Beaching was a better option rather than allowing the vessel to sink as did Tridev Prem, as, otherwise, a sunken vessel would have caused obstruction to navigation of other vessels.

Beach erosion

Experts from the College of Fisheries, Mangaluru, who had conducted an initial survey, felt that the vessel should be removed at the earliest to prevent any damage to the beach eco-system. There was also the possibility of tilting of the vessel during the monsoon because of sand erosion, the experts cautioned.

With a large sandbed being formed on the beach-side of the vessel at present, college Dean A. Senthil Vel said that the scenario would change during monsoon. The present change is a temporary one, he told. He added that the formation of a sandbed was the result of beach erosion elsewhere.