Speaking to media persons on Monday evening about the grounding of the MV Lucky Seven offshore casino vessel at Miramar, Curchorem MLA and BJP spokesperson Nilesh Cabral admitted that the vessel could create a mess in the sea as well as on the beach if not moved immediately, and therefore, the government is trying to drag it away as soon as possible. He also mentioned that the government has a policy in the pipeline to phase out the offshore casinos from River Mandovi.
Meanwhile, marine-time experts and experienced salvagers have warned that the spot and location where the Casino vessel is stuck on the sandbar off the Miramar beach is a very tricky and dangerous location to salvage a ship the size of the MV Lucky 7, particularly in the monsoon season during very rough weather.
IndiaScribes.com spoke to several experts from Mumbai who opined that it will be a very tricky, risky and expensive operation, given the winds and bad weather, sea currents and the fact that the stuck vessel is not sea-worthy as its engines are not working.
“The ship is not under its own power and must be tugged. We will need at least 4 to 5 tugs and possibly a huge crane mounted and supported by two huge tugs to pull the ship from its current ‘stuck’ spot and bring it back into the water from where it can be then tugged to Panaji. It is a very risky job and given the fact that the water is not very deep, huge tugs and tug-mounted-cranes will find it difficult to operate from that location even when the tide is at its peak, opined maritime expert and salvager Deepak Chaturvedi from Mumbai who has salvaged at least 20 ‘stuck’ ships in the last 10 years.
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Chaturvedi says that the ship could tilt and even crack or break up during the salvage operation causing huge environmental damage. The fuel tanks will have to be completely emptied, before a salvage operation is undertaken, Chaturvedi opined, adding that the ship’s anchor broke and got detached due to the choppy seas and bad weather. The ship is marooned and without power and only an extensive and expensive operation will save the ship now. Any haphazard half-attempts could cause irreparable damage to the Miramar beach and nearby environment, he warned.
Aanand Madgaonkar, an expert salvager told reporters at Miramar beach today that the crew members took high risk unnecessarily to bring the vessel in the Mandovi river from Mormugao harbour when it is well known that the Aguada sandbar area is closed for navigation (during the monsoon).
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He said the vessel owner could have waited till September when the sandbar is opened for traffic and then brought in the Mandovi river.
Madgaonkar said the ship owners tried to salvage the vessel on Sunday when the tide is expected to be favourable.
The vessel should be removed from the sandbar or else it will affect the Miramar beach, he said.
The Captain of Ports (CoP) James Braganza on Monday said that around 12,000 litres of fuel is now being emptied from the vessel so as to lighten it. The process of removing the fuel has already started he confirmed.
Braganza said that once the vessel becomes lighter, it will be towed back to the Mormugao Port Trust provided all weather conditions permit the authorities to undertake the operation. The present weather conditions are not conducive to carry out the operation, he said.
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MV Lucky 7 is the sixth off shore casino vessel which has been permitted by the state government to operate in the Mandovi river.
The casino is owned by tainted former Haryana minister Gopal Kanda.