Panaji, Dec 17 (IANS) A delegation of Congress leaders in Goa met Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday to demand a high-level inquiry into the controversy surrounding how an unmanned tanker carrying nearly 2,500 tonnes of naphtha was allowed to anchor off the state and the delay in salvaging the vessel carrying dangerous cargo, after it ran aground off Panaji in October this year.
After professional Dutch salvors pumped out the gaseous cargo and towed the vessel to safety on Monday, Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat has demanded a probe by a Defence Intelligence Agency or the National Investigation Agency into the whole incident, because the naphtha — which has been temporarily stored in tanks in the port premises — was sourced from Pakistan.
“High level investigation to be ordered into arrival of the said ship including its origin from Pakistan, consignor, consignee, cargo, licenses and permissions, etc. The Congress objects the decision of Government asking the Director General of Shipping to investigate the matter, as the said agency itself is responsible to give permission to berth the said ship at MPT Port. We demand that the investigation should be given to DIA or NIA,” the Congress memorandum states.
The unmanned tanker Nu Shi Nalini ran aground on October 26 on the rocky shelf off Panaji near Raj Bhavan — the official residence of the Governor — after it was caught in a storm off the state. The tanker had met with an accident in a Kerala port after which its engines were rendered non-functional and was subsequently towed to the Goa port.
A multi-agency operation, involving the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Director General Shipping, the Mormugao Port Trust and other state agencies, was subsequently launched to transfer the naphtha and nearly 50 tonnes of oil and 19 tonnes of diesel to other vessels, which failed.
The naphtha was finally pumped out after a week-long exercise ending Monday, with the help of professional salvors from the Netherlands, who had been awarded the tender for salvaging the vessel and its cargo.
“The Chief Minister has told us to give him some time and that an FIR will be filed in 15 days against the MPT Chairman,” Kamat said.
Speaking to reporters later Sawant said that action would be taken against those who are guilty in allowing the unmanned vessel to be anchored off the coastline, despite storm warnings in October.
The action against those who are guilty will be taken after the core issue of sending the naphtha away from Goa’s shores is taken care of. No one will be spared,” Sawant said.