Pramod Sawant. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Panaji, Nov 12 : Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said that a professional marine engineering company would be formally roped in by the Director General (Shipping) to salvage a stranded naphtha-filled tanker off the Panaji coastline by day-end.

Sawant also told reporters, that experts from the Directorate of Shipping in New Delhi would take a final call on selecting one of the two proposals from Singapore-based salvaging companies, who have been shortlisted for emptying the stricken tanker Nu Shi Nalini of its hazardous cargo, which includes nearly 2,500 tonnes of naphtha as well as tonnes of heavy oil and diesel.

"We have received two proposals. The DG Shipping experts will take a final call on selecting the right candidate today," Sawant told reporters on Tuesday. The Director General (DG) Shipping functions under the aegis of the Union Shipping Ministry.

Sawant also refuted allegations made by the Opposition that his government was not addressing the issue proactively.

"It is not so easy to remove the naphtha. We have to see the safety and security of the vessel. Until we get an undertaking from the salvager that the naphtha can be removed safely we will not go ahead," the Chief Minister told reporters.

The unmanned tanker Nu Shi Nalini ran aground on October 26 on the rocky shelf off Panaji near Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the Governor, after it was caught in a storm off the state, and has not moved position since.

A multi-agency operation, involving the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, DG (Shipping), the Mormugao Port Trust and other state agencies, was subsequently launched to transfer the naphtha and nearly 50 tonnes of oil and 19 tonnes of diesel to other vessels.

The joint operation, however, failed on account of stormy weather and a minor accident resulted in the vessel continuing to pose a threat to the coastal area on account of its hazardous cargo.

The Goa-based Port Trust now maintains that the bottom of the tanker is likely to give way and the coastline of Goa is now under ecological threat on account of the vessel's cargo.

The Opposition has, however, strongly criticised Sawant for not being firm enough in his resolve to tackle the crisis as well as punish those responsible for putting Goa at ecological risk.

The Congress has said that Sawant is unable to take decisive decisions because a Goa-based hydrocarbon firm, which sourced the tanker, was linked to a Gujarat-based parent firm.

"The Chief Minister should explain why did it take him 20 days to identify the company that was dealing with the Nu Shi Nalini vessel? There is reason to believe that the silence of the Goa government indicates that bigwigs from the BJP governments of Gujarat and Goa are involved in the mysterious vessel that is threatening an irreparable disaster for the state of Goa," Congress spokesperson Trajano D'Mello said.

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