KOCHI: Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan visited the Cochin Shipyard on Wednesday, a day after an explosion and fire on board an under-repair ONGC drill ship ‘Sagar Bhushan’ rocked the shipyard and claimed five lives. The heads of various agencies have already begun an inquiry into the mishap.During his visit, Radhakrishnan took cognisance of the situation on board ‘Sagar Bhushan.’ He also visited the injured workers, Sreeroop P T, Jaison Varghese, Abhilash T and Tiju Varghese John, who are undergoing treatment at the Medical Trust Hospital here.
The minister directed Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) to extend additional assistance to the victims. He promised employment, as is appropriate based on qualification, to one immediate dependent family member of each of the deceased. He also directed the officers concerned to immediately disburse an amount equivalent to two months’ wages and provide appropriate education assistance up to degree-level education to the children of the deceased.
CSL has already declared a financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh to the bereaved families. A sum of Rs 25,000 was also disbursed as immediate incidental expenses to them. It also provides treatment to the injured. Besides the statutory compensation relief, CSL will disburse wages to the injured till they return to work.
One worker still critical
The condition of one of the five workers injured in the blast, Sreeroop, 35, continued to be critical on Wednesday. He had suffered 45 per cent burns.
THE ONGC drill rig ‘Sagar Bhushan’, a blast in which killed five workers and left some workers injured at the Cochin Shipyard on Tuesday, is the first indigenously-built drill ship in India. It came to Kochi for repair after a gap of almost 12 years. Commissioned in 1987, the ship was a regular at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) since 1990 till 2006, when it last stopped here for repairs. After repairs, the ship was deployed to the east coast of India and was subsequently sent to Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam, for repairs. “It was deployed again to the west coast this year and so, it came to Cochin Shipyard for repair this year,” said CSL authorities.
In 2006, two other ONGC ships ‘Sagar Vijay’ and ‘Sagar Kiran’ had also underwent maintenance at CSL. Sagar Bhushan had worked on over 50 wells of which more than 50 per cent were gas or oil fields. It was undergoing mandatory special survey (Hull and Machinery) repairs at CSL as per class requirement. The 146-m long ship can drill up to 20,000 ft and carry 11,103 tonnes, including goods. It arrived at Cochin Shipyard on December 7 last year for dry dock repairs.
It was dry docked on January 12 and was to be undocked on February 28. The work was scheduled to be completed in April. Ship repair is a major source of income for CSL as is evident from the fact it earned Rs 585 crore last year via repairing alone. CSL is keen on expanding its ship repairing work and has commenced the construction of the International Ship Repair Facility. Recently, it also signed an MoU with the Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) for the management and operation of the facilities at MPT.
The heads of various agencies have begun an inquiry into the mishap. Director of Factories and Boilers, P Pramod, visited the spot on Wednesday. Preliminary assessment suggests the accident was caused by a momentary, high-impact explosion near the AC plant, situated above the ballast tank.