Saturday 22 Jun 2024

The River Princess: Rest in Pieces

| OCTOBER 27, 2012, 01:54 PM IST

It is imperative that the sand bottom off the coast ofCandolim is monitored diligently so as to ensure that River Princess does notreceive a Goan RIP (Rest in Pieces). Our scientific endeavour prompts us todeclare that 15000 tonnes of the double bottomed River Princess was covered upin about 40.000 tonnes of sand. We must not be fooled into believing that RiverPrincess was removed lock, stock and barrel and sold into the scrap market,while in fact Arihant ship breakers would have given the Princess a deep sandburial by pouring sand on the buried steel plates. This makes it difficult forsonar techniques to detect the buried remains.

Who were the stake holders directly involved in theexploitation of distressed Princess, costing Rs 75 crores to the NationalDisaster Control Authority and over Rs 45 crores to the state exchequer? Willour Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar bite the bait or the bullet only time willtell, as future alone will show whether the rested princess remains wouldsurface over a period of time to haunt the fishermen of Goa and unearth anotherscam.

After repeated interactions with the then Chief MinisterDigambar Kamat and also the local MLA Agnelo Fernandes, the River Princess wassurveyed about one and half years ago and it was blissfully reported that theship was intentionally grounded by allegedly and purposefully puncturing holes,so that sea water and sand could enter and firmly ground the ship by sinking itstill further below the seabed.

Due to the decade long neglect of successive governmentssince 2001, River Princess was not only allowed to suffer the vaganies ofweather, but its equipment, machinery, engines and others, along with valuablefurnishing worth over Rs 28 crores, was done away with without leaving behindany record of its inventory. We fear that the “vested interest group” who wasin charge of safe removal of River Princess, did not keep an inventory of scrapand the Rs. 20 crores worth of iron and steel, along with other rare metalsunaccounted for, through administrative manipulations and that Goa Customs didnot follow up the whereabouts of the dismantled steel.

In order to get data whether the metal deposits are stilllying buried below the seabed, one has to use certain equipment such as shallowwater seismic equipment along with other supporting equipment. It is not knownwhether the Goa Government or the Tourism Dept has the initial positioning datalocation of the River Princess? If yes, what kind of positioning equipment was usedat that time and what was its accuracy? This information is not available withthe tourism department. We were told that they have a Google position data map,which is not adequate and acceptable for such surveys. If the proper data fromDGPS is unavailable, the surveyor if appointed, may have to carry out therandom surveys on wider area thus giving chances to miss the actual spot wherethe Princess was buried. Any anchor ship is kept at this site, might havedrifted its positions during the monsoons. The survey needs to be done with anaccurate position fixing equipment having at least plus or minus 3 metersaccuracy. 

The present CM of Goa has to reconstitute the MonitoringCommittee, so as to ensure temporary IAS officials who keep on changing are notplaced in charge of sensitive Monitoring Committee as their responsibilitiesend with their transfer. The entire process, needs to be evaluated, assessedand determined for their effectiveness through a judicial inquiry. The Goagoverment can approach NIO for a fresh surveys since the weather is clearednow. 

Estevam Dias / Dr Joe Dsousa

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