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   Maritime experts point to holes in coastal security

info Coordination marée noire
dimanche 4 novembre 2012
statut de l'article : public
citations de l'article provenant de : Times of India


According to maritime experts, MT Pratibha Cauvery, a private vessel that was grounded off Chennai coast, is one amongst the many cases in the recent past when the coastal authorities woke up late and blamed the crew members as they were unable to handle the situation.

In many cases, poor crew members got caught between the bureaucratic red tape and callous ship owners who refuse to acknowledge their plight. "We have been in constant touch with the crew members of Pratibha Cauvery, and they say that they have been treated like criminals even though the ship got grounded due to no fault of theirs," said Shantaram Dhamapurkar, organizing secretary, National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI).

It is high time the government frames a comprehensive marine disaster management policy, which will treat ship-wrecked sailors as real victims who have encountered a near-death-like situation and are yet to come out of the emotional trauma. "We understand that they need to be questioned especially when the crew come from different parts of the world. But they should be allowed to meet their relatives or friends so that they can deal with the trauma of being stranded in mid-sea for days together," says Dhamapurkar.

Many times the coastal authorities do not follow up with the ship owners to remove the vessels that have been grounded and this not only blocks the ship’s channel but also results in release of toxic waste from the rusting hull of the ships. The two major accidents that occurred off Mumbai coast are classic examples. In August 7, 2010, a cargo ship, MV Khalija-3, collided with the container vessel MSC Chitra, 30 nautical miles off the Mumbai port. But, delay in removing the ship resulted in another mishap in March 19, 2001 when the ship drifted and its anchor damaged it even further.

"The problem gets aggravated if the vessel is damaged to such an extent that she needs to be scrapped. The owners try to abandon it or delay towing it away to a ship breaking yard as it is expensive. The result is that it will eventually drown and pose a greater hazard to other ships," says a senior coast guard official from Mumbai. Environmentalists also point out that the oil spill from stranded vessels destroys rich marine resources, which many times cannot be gauged immediately. "The oil slick from the two ships, MS Chitra and Khalijia 3, that collided off Mumbai destroyed more than 300 hectares of mangroves as it lapped the Elephanta coast in a couple of months following the mishap," says Dr Deepak Apte, deputy director, Bombay Natural History Society.

Maritime experts said MT Pratibha Cauvery, a private vessel that was grounded off Chennai coast, is one amongst the many cases in the recent past when the coastal authorities woke up late and then put the blame on crew members as they were unable to handle the situation.

They say that in many cases, poor crew members got caught in between the bureaucratic red tape and callous ship owners who refuse even to acknowledge the plight of the crew.

"We have been in constant touch with the crew members of Pratibha Cauvery, and they say that they have been treated like criminals even though the ship got grounded due to no fault of theirs,’’ says organising secretary Shantaram Dhamapurkar, National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI).

He said that it is high time that the government framed a comprehensive marine disaster management policy which will treat ship -wrecked sailors more humanly and see them as real victims who have encountered a near-death like situation and have yet to come out of the emotional trauma.

...

The two major accidents that occurred off Mumbai coast are classic examples. In August 7, 2010, a cargo ship MV Khalija-3 collided with the container vessel MSC Chitra, 30 nautical miles off the Mumbai port. However, delay in removing the ship from the ship’s channel resulted in another mishap in March 19, 2001 when the ship drifted and its anchor damaging it even further.

"The problem gets aggravated if the vessel is damaged to such an extent that she needs to be scrapped. The owners will then try to abandon the ship or delay towing away the vessel to a ship breaking yard as it becomes an expensive affair. The result is it will eventually drown and pose a greater hazard to navigation route for other ships,’’ says a senior coast guard official from Mumbai.

Environmentalists also point out that the oil spill from stranded vessels destroys rich marine resources, which many a time cannot be gauged immediately.

"The oil slick from the two ships, M S Chitra and Khalijia 3,that collided off Mumbai destroyed more than 300 hectares of mangroves as it lapped the Elephanta coast in a couple of months following the mishap,’’ says Dr Deepak Apte, deputy director of Bombay Natural History Society.

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