CHENNAI: MT Dawn Kancheepuram, the ship that polluted Chennai coast spilling around 200 tonnes of furnace oil after colliding with LPG tanker vessel BW Maple, has got a reprieve with the Madras High Court allowing it to sail out of Kamarajar Port after paying the agreed sum.
Owners of the two vessels have entered into an understanding and agreed to deposit Rs 240 crore, as claimed by Tamil Nadu government, of which Rs 15 crore has already been paid to the Department of Fisheries.
Submitting a joint memo of compromise, which was recorded by a division bench of Justices M Venugopal and S Vaidyanathan, the UKP&I Club, on behalf of the owners of BW Maple and MT Dawn Kanchipuram, agreed to deposit Rs 141 crore, strictly without prejudice, towards the various claims lodged by the fishermen, including the restoration claims of Rs 10 crore, within 14 days. For the remaining amount, the owners of both vessels have agreed to arrange for the execution of a bank guarantee for a sum of Rs 84 crore within 21 days.
The oil spill caused havoc in the lives of fisher communities in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur. State fisheries department received a total of 1,12,051 claims. The fishermen have been waiting for the compensation to be disturbed for the past 14 months. Now that the insurers have agreed to deposit the money, the fisheries department should be able to settle the claims.
Originally, owner of MT Dawn Kancheepuram moved a plea before a single judge of the court for grant of port clearance to allow the vessel anchored at Kamarajar port to be towed to Vishakapatnam to carry out repairs. However, Advocate-General Vijay Narayan challenged the plea stating the vessel cannot be permitted to sail out without the payment of claim amount.
BW Maple has deposited Rs 203 cr with DG Shipping for getting clearance. Accordingly, the single judge asked the insurer of Dawn Kancheepuram to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 188 crore in favour of Director of fisheries. Contesting the order, the firm filed an appeal.
Insurers UK P & I Club and the Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association Limited of BW Maple and
Dawn Kancheepuram had had meetings with officials concerned and agreed to amicably resolve the claims arising out of the collision and made the proposal of compromise, which was agreed upon by the Tamil Nadu government.