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Jayanthi moots fund to save stranded ships

With 40 ships,some carrying hazardous material,stranded off the Indian coast,Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai |
June 21, 2013 3:51:04 am

With 40 ships,some carrying hazardous material,stranded off the Indian coast,Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan has proposed a corpus fund for salvage operations.

On her maiden visit to Mumbai after becoming minister for environment and forests last year,she discussed the proposal with representatives of the ministry of shipping,Indian Navy,directorate general of shipping and Coast Guard Thursday. “We concluded a corpus fund is necessary. Forty ships are stranded along the Indian coast. We need to establish a corpus between the ministries of shipping and environment and forest as we cannot wait for funds from companies willing to rescue the ships,” Natarajan said. “I will talk to the Prime Minister and the defence ministry and establish the corpus.”

Natarajan said Maharashtra put together a corpus in 2010 to salvage MT Pavit and was getting the money reimbursed through litigation. She also discussed a system to respond to mishaps involving such ships causing loss of livelihood and damage to environment and reviewed standard operating procedures put in place by the shipping ministry and Coast Guard.

Oil tankers MT Pratibha Tapi and Pratibha Indrayani are anchored near Mumbai. Natarajan said officials had assured her the situation was under control and not much hazardous material was on board the vessels. She also met representatives of oil marketing firms and told them to replace old pipelines to prevent erosion.

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“After two-three accidents,we have decided to review the status of 1,000 km of oil and gas pipelines — some in sea,some above ground,on private lands and roads to prevent further environmental damage.” Gautam Chatterjee,director general of shipping,said: “A fund to salvage stranded ships is being considered. Getting money from owners is difficult. The environment minister sought views on this and there was consensus. We did not go into details of amount required.”

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