Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Paradip, Sep 9:
Six years after iron ore laden Mongolian ship ‘Black Rose’ sank off the Paradip coast in Odisha, it remains in its spot causing navigational safety issues.
If what experts say is anything to go by, the sunken ship with limited visibility above water could lead to serious accidents in future for the passing ships, trawlers and other floating crafts.
Even though the upper portion of the haul of the ship was visible to naked eyes from the sea beach of the Paradip Light House after the incident, it has been cut and stolen by the scrap mafia in spite of regular patrolling in the sea by the Indian Coast Guard and PPT patrolling boats. Only about five percent of the ship now is above water.
Even though Jagatsinghpur collector had been tasked with removing the ship from the seas, no concrete action has been taken in this regard. Financial constraint is being cited as the reason for the delay.
As per sources, the estimated cost to salvage the sunken ship is about Rs 100-110 crore. However, the scrap value of the metal, after the salvation, would be only about Rs 3-4 crore. The staggering estimated loss is leading to further delays.
Curiously, even though various government agencies such as Mercantile Marine Department of the Union Government, the National Shipping Board, the Odisha Crime Branch and the Jagatsinghpur district administration investigated into the incident, no conclusive report ever came to the public domain. Odisha Crime Branch is yet to finish its investigation and the matter continues to get delayed in the Calcutta High Court.
Nobody has been held accountable for the incident and subsequent damage to the navigational route and environment even though the Paradip Port Trust (PPT) had to cough up Rs 20 crore to remove the oil from the ship that had spilled into the sea water after the mishap to avoid an imminent environmental catastrophe. While the Singapore-based owner of the vessel went underground after the incident, the local shipping agent operates its business under a different name.
It may be noted that the ship sank exactly six years back on September 9, 2009 killing its Ukrainian chief engineer and injuring some other crew members. All crew members except the chief engineer were rescued by the tugs of the Paradip Port Trust (PPT) during the night. The wet iron ore loaded during heavy rain, listing of the ship and bad weather were attributed as the causes of the capsizing of the vessel.
The ship owners were reportedly operating the ship with forged certificates which escaped the eyes of the international and port community. Allegations have also been made that underworld elements and mining mafia had a stake in running this vessel and exporting the ore.