KOCHI: MV Thilaakkam, an oil tanker transporting fuel to Lakshadweep Islands from Kochi, ran aground while entering Kavaratti port on Monday. The tanker operated by the Shipping Corporation of India was transporting diesel and aviation fuel to the islands, having set sail from Kochi on Saturday.
According to local residents, there was strong westward current in the sea due to which the vessel drifted while entering the port and ran aground in the shallow waters. Though the port authorities tried to tow the vessel, the efforts proved futile in low tide. The authorities said the ship was safe and there was no chance of an oil spill. The ship will be towed to safety during high tide, said an official.
Though the Lakshadweep Development Corporation used to operate vessels transporting goods to the islands till recently, its operations were handed over to the Shipping Corporation of India from January.
A team of scuba divers from the Atoll Scuba team conducted an underwater inspection and confirmed that there was no damage to the hull of the vessel. The ship was transporting fuel to the newly constructed Indian Oil Corporation depot at Kavaratti and Minicoy. The island administration is planning to inaugurate the oil depots in March. There was no proper distribution network for petrol and diesel in the island, and fuel was transported to the island in barrels.
It was distributed through cooperative societies. Because of scarcity, a rationing system is in place there for fuel distribution. A litre of petrol costs Rs 130 in the islands.