Rescuers wait for special vessel as efforts to tug tanker grounded off Goa remain fruitless
Agencies involved in salvaging the grounded 11,000-tonne chemical tanker Nu Shi Nalini off Goa will resume their attempt after a specialised towing vessel from Mumbai reaches the state, officials said on Monday.
The Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have been trying to free Nu Shi Nalini since she broke loose on Thursday in the gusty winds that accompanied Cyclone Kyarr, sparking fears of an oil spill.
The ship then drifted towards the shore to run aground at the popular Aivao “Hawaii” beach, around 800 metres from Dona Paula, the capital Panaji’s sea-facing locality. It is loaded with 2,000 tonnes of naphtha, 50 tonnes of heavy oil and 19 tonnes diesel.
“The requisite pumping system to remove naptha and other petroleum products from the ship has been dispatched from Mumbai,” the chief minister’s office said in a statement.
The tanker has remained still and in the same position for more than 30 hours since its grounding.
While fears of an oil or chemical spill persist, aerial inspection of the vessel and the vicinity by the coast guard has found no oil spill so far. It has stationed one oil spill response vessel in the vicinity of the grounded vessel.
Two teams with a tug with total 600 metres of a reel of boom are also on standby to attempt to rig boom around the vessel to deal with any possible spillage but the sea is still rough, the coast guard has said.
Authorities are hopeful that the vessel can finally be unloaded and refloated, with an improvement in the weather.
The traditional fishermen’s union has blamed the authorities at the Mormugao Port Trust for the fiasco.
“If the ship cracks then the entire sea will be polluted and there will be complete destruction of marine life for the next 10 years within the radius of 25km where the ship is grounded and coastline will be non accessible to the people of Goa and tourists,” the president of the Goenchea Raponkarancho Ekvott an association of traditional fishermen, Agnelo Rodrigues, said.
The state’s tourism stakeholders have said they are relieved that a bigger tragedy has been avoided.
“Things could have been much worse. They have got moving and I think things have stabilised now and we are convinced that it will not be as big a disaster as we feared,” Savio Messias, the president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, said.
In 2000, a ship M V River Princess broke loose in similarly squally conditions and drifted before beaching at the Candolim beach and remained there for another 12 years until it was dismantled and sold as scrap, but not before significantly eroding the once wide stretch of beach.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant has already ordered that the ship’s captain face a magisterial inquiry.