October 29, 2011 12:12:30 am
The Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) has begun the process of valuing controversial ship MT Pavit ahead of auctioning it next month.
The board finally started the procedure after the Dubai-based owners Pavit Shipping and Prime Tankers LLC failed to respond within the stipulated deadline of two months. The deadline ended this month,with the board now corresponding with various agencies such as customs,ports,and the ministry of shipping and ministry of finance to get the procedures for valuation and auctioning sorted.
The vessel,which remained stranded at Juhu beach,was salvaged and shifted to Dighi Port by Great Offshore salvers on August 15 and later shifted to Dabhol Port. While the salvers hold the Maritime and Possessory lien till date,the Directorate General of Shipping had earlier asked the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB),the nodal authority for ports,to “go ahead with the process of recovering dues” from the owners.
Officials said the cost of removal along with port charges and customs itself stands above Rs 3.5 crore,much more than the estimated cost of the vessel. The state board has marked four evaluators for now,who are approved by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority,with their previous performances with reputed shipping companies being probed. One of the problems that the board is facing,also causing the delay in the auction,is that there is no valuator approved by the Central Government to value stranded ships like Pavit.
The only trusted agencies are based abroad and will not be financially feasible. “We have marked four Indian evaluators for now. The work has begun,” confirmed Captain Divakar Prasad,MMB. The owners never responded and we do not expect them to respond anymore, he added.
The board,meanwhile,is also trying to correspond with the customs as the duty has worked to a sizable bit. The State Board is also corresponding with the Ministry of Finance to arrive at a solution in this matter. According to officials at Directorate General of Shipping,the customs duty on a stranded ship where the owners have not responded does not make sense,as the cost of the salvers has to be met.
While the first demand note was sent by MMB on August 8,after the vessel came drifting to Juhu Beach,they followed it with a couple of fresh notices with the decision to auction the vessel taken in the first week of October. The notices were sent under Section 10 of the Indian Port Act,1908 which maintains that the ‘onus’ and hence the cost of a salvage exercise always rests on the owners. Once the valuation is complete,officials said the newspaper advertisements of the tenders should be out by the third week of November.
The MMB now has deputed the services of Port office at Ratnagiri to check the health status of the ship. MT Pavit now anchored at Dabhol port is being ventilated and prepared for the auction.
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