KARAIKAL: Officials are concerned that a ship grounded near Karaikal by Cyclone Gaja in 2018 will be damaged by Cyclone Nivar.
Officials have removed the oil stored in the TEGD Veera Prem, a trailing suction hopper dredger vessel, grounded near TR Pattinam Pattinachery in Karaikal when Gaja made landfall on November 16, 2018. However, some residual oil remains in the engines which cannot be drained out.
"The oil stored could have caused an environmental disaster but has been removed. The ropes used to moor the vessel could become untethered during the cyclone. We have instructed fishers and locals to stay clear of the vessel," said District Collector Arjun Sharma.
There is a lot of heavy machinery still on the vessel, including rearward extending suction pipes, dredging pumps, transportation tubes, overflow channels and degassing installation. They are yet to be dismantled from the ship which reportedly is no longer seaworthy.
The vessel was reportedly built in around 1970 and has a deadweight of 16385 tons and a gross weight of 9640 tons. The overall length is 124 meters and extreme breadth is 23.04 meters. The ship had beached as it was travelling at a speed of 7.7 to 6.8 knots. The ship was reportedly heading to Karaikal Port when it ended up on the beach near Karaikal. Its crew had escaped unhurt and returned home.
Talks were going on to salvage the ship around December 2018. But the work did not take off. "The vessel's owner and the insurer could not come up with the required documents before the Puducherry Pollution Control Committee and Coastal Zone Management Authority. The salvaging works will start soon. The grounded ship is already causing sea erosion and sand heaping near our shore. We request the administration to salvage the vessel as soon as possible after the cyclone. It is also an obstruction to us in the dark," said M Sakthivel, a fisher-representative from TR Pattinam Pattinachery.