Cyclone Tauktae: MD of company that owned tugboat applies for bail
Rajesh Shahi, the managing director of Glory Ship management private limited, which owns the Varaprada tug boat, which capsized during Cyclone Tauktae and resulted in the death of 11 crew members, of 13 onboard, has applied for anticipatory bail in the sessions court.
The police officers said that they have got a notification about anticipatory bail applied by Shahi from the court and will be opposing his bail in the court.
The Yellow Gate police had registered a case against Shahi and his company Glory Ship Management on June 24 under the charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and common intention, based on the statement given by the complainant, Francis K Simon, a second engineer of the Varaprada tug boat, which sank on May 17. Of the 13 onboard, 11 died, while two, including Simon, were rescued by the Indian Navy.
“We have recorded the statement of Shahi and five employees of the Glory Ship Management earlier and further investigation is on,” said an officer.
During the investigation, a team went to Kerala and recorded the statement of Simon who alleged that the company did not carry out the required maintenance and repair works, and their irresponsible act resulted in a tragic incident in which 11 people died. Simon, who was the second engineer of the boat and one of its only two survivors, also alleged that the boat was not seaworthy and the owner was well aware of the boat’s defective conditions, said a police officer.
According to the police, on the instructions from Afcons Infrastructure Limited on May 14, Varaprada started tugging barge Gal Constructor back to safety from near an oil rig in the south field of Bombay High, around 90 nautical miles from the Mumbai shore.
Due to the cyclone, both started drifting on May 17 while they were on the way to the coast in the wee hours and in the afternoon Varaprada sank, leading to the death of 11 crew on board including the captain and two including Simon jumped before it sank and they were later rescued by Navy. The Gal Constructor was carrying 137 people on board drifted over 100 kilometres and ran aground at Palghar. All crew members were rescued by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. The police have been conducting an investigation and will soon arrest the people responsible for the incident, added the officer.
In another case, the Yellow Gate police on Friday night arrested three persons -Prasad Ganpat Rane, Nitin Dinanath Singh and Akhilesh Tiwari who are key management members of Papaa Shipping Company Pvt Ltd, Vile Parle, in connection with accommodation barge Papaa305 (P305) that had capsized in the Arabian Sea during Cyclone Tauktae on May 17, resulting in the loss of 75 lives.
During interrogation in their statement, the three revealed that officials of the companies that had hired the barge were responsible for the sinking as they did not send in a tug boat in time to take the barge (P305) and bring it near Mumbai coast, said police officer part of the investigating team. But Rane, Singh and Tiwari were well aware of the serious warning issued by the authority concerned in the connection with Cyclone Tauktae. They were appointed to get daily progress reports of the employees, said senior inspector Suhas Hemade of the Yellow Gate police station.
The trio neither called back their employees as well as other agencies like the Indian Navy and ICG to take the barge to a safe place. There are other responsible people of the company and a detailed investigation is going on to fix responsibility, said Hemade.
Initially, a first information report (FIR) in the matter was registered on May 21 against the master of the barge Rakesh Ballav and some others based on the statement of Mistafizur Rahman Hussain Shaikh, who was part of the maintenance crew of the vessel. Shaikh had accused Ballav and others of overlooking the weather alerts and for failing to take appropriate care despite knowing that the lapse could result in the loss of lives.
Rane, Singh and Tiwari have been arrested on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, endangering life or personal safety of others and common intention and the trio are in police custody till July 8. Rane is the manager of Papaa Shipping, while Singh and Tiwari are the director and technical superintendent, respectively.