THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Port Department on Sunday ordered Brahmekshara, a troubled tug boat from Gujarat, which has been indefinitely stationed in the wharf at the Vizhinjam Port here ever since it ran out of fuel and water, to leave the Kerala waters as soon as possible.
The Port Department has asked the tug to leave the port and head for Gujarat after paying the applicable rent for using the wharf for around three weeks. The action comes after it was brought to the notice of the port authorities that few of the employees of the tug had threatened suicide if they are not allowed to leave for their home in Gujarat at a time when the captain of the ship had abandoned it and handed over his responsibilities to the chief officer.
It was following this development that the agency concerned sprang into action and found out that the tug has been stationed at the wharf without paying the applicable rent. “We have demanded the tug to leave the port within 24 hours after paying the outstanding rent,” said Vizhinjam Port purser M T Mohandas.
It was also revealed that the ship was on its way to Maldivian capital of Male towing a barge when it hit the coral reef damaging one of its fuel tanks forcing the captain to reroute the tug to Vizhinjam for fuel refill. The tug also incurred a fine of around `25 lakh as a result and the employees have been forced to work without remuneration for the past two months, the officials said.
The officials said that many of the employees are not in the right frame of mind after spending long periods in sea and foreign countries, but the tug will have to go through survey procedures before it can leave the port. Action have been initiated to do the necessary in a timely manner, they said.
The tug was asked to station at Vizhinjam after it was found by the Coastal Police seven nautical miles away from the coast here on November 20. The tug had 10 employees, including captain Venkitesh Pappu.