Half-submerged tugboat at Vizhinjam to be lifted

By Sradha Meloot

An abandoned tugboat that sank at Seaward Wharf of Vizhinjam Port, spilling oil and fuel, will be lifted soon by experts from a Kochi-based shipping company.

As the crews prepare the daunting task of lifting the 360-tonne MV Brahmekshara, the possibility of spreading the remaining 4,000 liters of fuel and oil from the half submerged tugboat looms large over the marine life and environment.

It was in 2015 that the damaged tugboat which was returning from Maldives enroute to Tuticorin was allowed to anchor at Vizhinjam as it was short of fresh water. Later, the owner allegedly abandoned it due to financial difficulties. A huge bank loan taken by the owner had also come as a major hurdle for removing the tugboat from Vizhinjam Seaward Wharf, affecting the construction of the Coast Guard berth. Adding to the woes of the authorities, it partially submerged in November last year, spilling oil and fuel to the sea water.

Now, the bank authorities who approached Mumbai High Court for auctioning the tubboat had entrusted a Kochi-based company to lift the tugboat.

Mr Santhosh Kumar.S, Managing Director of the Excellent Shipbuilders, told Kadapuram News that their team and equipment were on the way and it was expected to take ten days to lift the 360-tonne tugboat.

”It is not an easy task. Several risk factors are involved in it. Our task is to lift the half submerged tugboat and we are not authorised to do anythingelse,” he said

”We cannot predict an oil leakage while lifting the submerged vessel, he said, adding that they would start work within two days. ”If there is any oil leakage, then we will have to look into it,” he added.

A file picture

Environmentalists expressed concern that the process of repositioning the tug might release more diesel and pollutants into the water. They urged the authorities to take effective steps to ensure steps to contain further oil spill.

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