Neither Chennai Port Trust nor L&T Kattupalli port wants to take charge of vessel

It looks like an unwanted child. Ever since it ran aground off the city coast last week, MT Pratibha Cauvery has been drawing huge crowds, but neither the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) nor the private L&T Kattupalli port is inclined to take charge of the troubled ship.

While ChPT is reluctant to allot a berth, the L&T port does not want to entertain the vessel for repairs.

A senior official of ChPT says: “There is no question of allowing it as there are only three berths in Bharati Dock, meant for palm oil, crude and POL [petroleum and oil lubricants]. The vessel does not have anchors. If it is towed from the present site, it has to be kept in the outer anchorage. Moreover, it has to be repaired, not anchored.”

According to informed sources, ChPT does not want to waste one of its operating berths. Currently, the port has allotted a berth in Jawahar Dock to motor vessel OSM Arena, which drifted to the Napier Bridge last year, to recover its dues.

“It is a headache for us. Allotting one berth in Bharati Dock for Pratibha Cauvery would mean long hours of waiting time for other oil tankers. Besides, it would mean loss of berthing charges. It is the job of the owners or agents to take care of the interests of employees. We can ill-afford this type of a showpiece,” said another official.

Representatives of the private port said they were also not in favour of taking the vessel for repair work in view of uncertainty over recovering the charges. “As of now, government agencies are involved in salvage work as the vessel is closer to the shore and poses a problem to the fishing community. After sending the vessel to the repair shop, government agencies might not show the same kind of interest,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, representatives of the Mercantile Marine Department and the Coast Guard held a meeting to discuss the salvage operations.

If ChPT and the private port put their foot down, the Ennore port might be approached, say marine experts.