‘State must aid Arihant for Princess removal’
The River Princess Hatao Manch (RPHM) on Tuesday urged the government to use the services of Arihant Ship Breakers to complete the job of removing the wreckage of the M V River Princess.
A report by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has indicated that significant portions of the grounded ship are still lying there, with some of the portions buried under the sand.
Speaking to TOI, RPHM convenor Fermino Fernandes, who lives near the area where the ship was grounded, said residents are grateful to Arihant for removing the ship. "Every year, people staying in the area were living in fear that their land would get washed away; 15 m of land was getting eroded every year. With the removal of the ship, at least 70% of the beach has been restored, which was admitted even by chief minister Manohar Parrikar when he came here last Sunday," he said, adding that people can now resume operating their businesses on the beach there.
He expressed regret that the government is now contemplating termination of the contract with Arihant for failure to remove the ship completely. A press note issued by the RPHM said "The River Princess Hatao Manch was formed by the villagers of Candolim in December 2008, in order to do away with the grounded vessel, M V River Princess, which had created an environmental disaster on the Candolim beach. The government of Goa appointed the contractors, Arihant Ship Breakers from Mumbai to do the said work, due to their capability and lowest quote. The contractors took up the challenge to do the work in the month of March, 2011. Despite rough weather, they started on a war footing and completed the removal of the vessel above water level before the onset of monsoons of June, 2011. It is to be noted that they had to undergo hardships and spend more time in obtaining the licenses from various government departments, including the central government.
"The contractors were supposed to resume the work of the removal of the remaining vessel in the month of October, 2011, but once again, due to the delay in sanctioning of various licenses by government departments, they could not resume the job before December, 2011. We had observed that they had to call in Russian experts in order to do the under sea bed removal of the vessel.
"It is therefore requested by the villagers of Candolim that the government should immediately direct to complete the balance job, if any, as per the report of the surveyors. We have strong faith that the contractors, Arihant Ship Breakers, have the capability of doing the remaining job."
The state government is yet to convene a meeting of the monitoring committee to decide on the future course of action after the NIO gave its report earlier this month. [TOI]