Dredger still on Surathkal coast; auction plan gets nod

Dredging vessel Bhagwati Prem that was beached at Surathkal on October 28 night by the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) still remains at the same place as against the rrust’s assurance to get it removed by January 2020.

The process of auctioning the vessel, following its owner M/s Mercator’s failure to remove it, is yet to commence even as NMPT has now got approval for the same from the Shipping Ministry.

NMPT Chairman A.V. Ramana told, a public notice/ newspaper publication for the auction will be issued by this month-end.

NMPT had beached the vessel, which saw flooding in its engine room, fearing it might sink during the 3rd low pressure of the season in October last. Another dredger of Mercator, Tridev Prem, sunk in the Sea within NMPT limits on September 2 under similar circumstances thereby posing a threat to other vessels using the port.
Beaching of Bhagwati Prem however had not gone well among local fishermen and environmentalists.
While fishermen feared their fishing activities will get affected, College of Fisheries, Mangaluru, had of warned damage to the coastline if the vessel continued to remain at the same place.

College Dean A. Senthil Vel, who had conducted a detailed study of the impact of grounding of mv River Princess off Candolim Beach in Goa during 2000, said that the vessel’s long presence for 12 years severely damaged the coastline.

Mr. Ramana however blamed Bhagwati Prem’s owner Mercator and the Director General of Shipping for the continued presence of the vessel.

He said: “NMPT took the initiative of beaching the vessel well within the port limits just to save environment. It is only a social obligation that we had done beaching. Now we have got approval from the Union government for auctioning the same as per the laid-down procedure.”

The Chairman said: “We are seriously on the job. A government approved valuer before auctioning is getting finalised. Public notice/ newspaper advertisement is likely to be released by end of January. We will take the thing to its logical conclusion.”

However, Mr. Ramana was not clear whether the successful bidder would tow away the vessel, as environmentalists fear ship breaking in-situ at Surathkal would be more hazardous.

mv River Princess remained off Goa coast for 12 years before she was broken in-situ.