New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT), late on Monday night, took control of and brought to the shore dredger Bhagvati Prem at the Surathkal-Mukka coast near here, after it started to drift once its anchor snapped. The NMPT brass maintained they had taken a conscious decision to bring the vessel to shore, at the nearest point of the coast, to prevent the dredger from sinking, and possible damage to marine environment, which were issues raised by local fishermen and environmental forums.
Akkaraju Venkata Ramana, chairman, NMPT, said three tugboats commanded by the deputy conservator of the port, got the dredger to the port, after they found that its hull had been breached. Allaying fears of fishermen and environmentalists that the dredger would be brought to NMPT land, Ramana said the land, which is the coastline in this case, near to the port, belongs to it as per the Indian Ports Act, 1908. “Since the vessel did not have any propulsion, it was brought to the shore to avoid its sinking,” he added.
Discounting possibilities about the dredger being scrapped on the beach itself, Ramana said the directorate general of shipping has already directed Mumbai based M/s Mercator Ltd to remove the ship. “We have beached the dredger as a temporary measure, to avert any untoward incident, particularly keeping in mind forecast of another low pressure being formed,” he said, adding this low pressure is expected to move closer to this coastal city.
On the possibility of Mercator not complying with the direction of DG Shipping, given its past history when Tridevi Prem, the other dredger that the company owned and sank some 2.5-nautical miles off NMPT on September 2, Ramana said, “We will acquire it legally and auction it.” Ramana at the same time was not happy with DG Shipping sitting on its heels and not pushing Mercator to remove the dredger from the port area.
Justifying the move to beach the dredger, Ramana said the result of it sinking would have been far more serious. Salvaging a vessel that sinks is difficult and costly compared to removing a beached vessel, he said. NMPT had terminated the dredging contract with Mercator, and had asked the company to remove the dredgers from its area.