Large part of River Princess still on seabed

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The saga of River Princess still continues to haunt the people of the state despite claims of its total removal, as a magnetic...

PANAJI: The saga of River Princess still continues to haunt the people of the state despite claims of its total removal, as a magnetic survey carried out by the National Institute of Oceanography late last month off Candolim beach has revealed presence of large remains of vessel.

According to informed sources, the NIO report which was prepared by chief scientist, Dr A K Chaubey (an expert in marine geophysics), has revealed that a significantly large part of the grounded ship was seen lying between 3 to 10 metres on the seabed, indicating that the claim by the management of M/s Arihant Shipbreakers about total removal of the ship was not true.
The informed sources also said the NIO report, which was presented to the government earlier this month, has also revealed that a large portion of the wreck was protruding out several feet about the seafloor, which included extensive remains of the ship’s structure including parts of the hull, ladder, pipes, cables, etc.
The report has also indicated that there was thick growth of barnacles and other marine organisms over the exposed metallic structure. It also states that the penetration of the wreck into the seabed could not be ascertained, a large part of metallic structure was found to be exposed to water, protruding several feet above the seabed.
The sources said the NIO team that carried out the survey, however, has not quantified the weight but given the dimension of the ship that was still lying at the site off Candolim beach. The officials have estimated that around 6,000 tonnes of the ship could still be lying at the grounded place.
The tourism department had sought a survey by the premier central agency in the state following the claim by the management of the Arihant Shipbreakers that they have totally removed the ship that was grounded way back in June 2000. The management had sought payment of  `90 crore for removal of the vessel in May 2012.
Following the claim by the company, which was awarded the contract for total removal of the vessel, the government ordered survey by a private agency, New Horizon, which after a survey gave a report that the ship was removed totally and that no remnants were found during a survey conducted by it.
The certificate issued by the private agency, however, did not satisfy the tourism department officials who ordered another survey by the NIO. The government request to the NIO was made on October 9 and the NIO accepted the government’s request and a survey was conducted between October 25 and 31 and the report was submitted on November 2.
The sources said that several instances of people swimming in the area having been injured after coming into contact with the exposed parts of the ship have been reported. An official of the tourism department said that such instances have been brought to the notice of the government and that cases were being investigated.
Meanwhile, the sources in the NIO stated that the wreckage of the ship was surely a navigational and safety hazard and could mar fishing activities in the area, besides causing harm to the people swimming in the area. They further said that a lot of marine life existed at the site.