Mumbai: Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) said one of the two vessels of the financially distressed Pratibha Shipping is drifting towards the city coast and an emergency towing vessel (ETV) has been requisitioned to take care of any situation. Without giving out specifics of locations, DGS said Pratibha Tapi, one of the two vessels, is dragging anchor at a "very slow rate" while Pratibha Indrayani, the second one, is "is maintaining its position", it said in a statement.
It said state-run Shipping Corporation of India has been requested to deploy an ETV with adequate manpower and salvage equipment immediately off the coast of the city. The statement comes after a city tabloid reported that the two vessels, carrying up to 200 tonnes of fuel, are within six nautical miles off the city coast and may run aground on the city coast in six days.
According to the report, the state government is wasting precious time in towing the vessels to safety by not invoking the provisions of the Disaster Management Act. "The Directorate being aware of the drift of Pratibha Tapi through the intelligence information from Coast Guard/Mumbai port has sensitised all concerned agencies of the Government," the statement said, adding that all the agencies, including the state government, have been requested to activate their respective contingency plan.
The authorities want to avoid a repeat of the MV Wisdom incident two years ago, wherein the ship ran aground on city coast in monsoon while being taken to Alang scrapyard. Ahead of the monsoon, DGS had asked the owners of the vessel, unable to run the company due to the gloom in the shipping industry, to avoid a "marine accident" and send the ships either to a scrap yard or make them operational.
Placing the ETV is as per the Government's plan with one each on both the coasts, it said, adding the second ETV will be located at Chennai. According to the owner, both the ships are "under court arrest in the High Court of Mumbai for the settlement of maritime claims", the DGS said.
Earlier this year, Pratibha Shipping had successfully sought to reduce manpower on its vessels citing financial difficulties it is facing. "The Directorate permitted reduction of manning on board these two ships during the fair weather period at the request of the owner with the condition that the manning shall either be increased or these ships to be decommissioned or to be made operational before the onset of monsoon," DGS added.