Chennai Port Trust as well as Ennore and Kattupalli have refused to entertain stranded ship

Even as preparations were on to tow stranded motor vessel, MT Pratibha Cauvery, from Nochikuppam on Thursday, port owners have unanimously said that they do not want to entertain it.

Following the Madras High Court order stating that the vessel could not be taken outside its jurisdiction, the vessel owner has a limited choice — he can take his oil tanker to one of three ports in Chennai, or Karaikal or Nagapattinam. Rameswaram and Tuticorin ports are ruled out, as the vessel would then leave the court’s jurisdiction.

Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) officials stick to their position that they cannot spare a running berth for the tanker as more than five oil vessels have been waiting in outer anchorage for berthing over the last five days.

While suggesting that the vessel be moved either to Ennore Port or Kattupalli Port, a senior official of ChPT said: “By blocking one of our berths in Bharthi Dock, we might be affecting the productivity of oil firms. Moreover, we have lost one berth to the Korean vessel, OSM Arena, and Pratibha Warna is in outer anchorage.”

Reacting to ChPT’s suggestion, Ennore Port Ltd (EPL) officials said there were no spare berths in Ennore too. “Coal berths and car berths are always engaged and an LPG vessel is expected to arrive in a day or two. This vessel has to go to the same port from where it came,” said an EPL official.

L&T Kattupalli officials are not keen on taking the vessel in for repairs as they are doubtful of recovering money spent. However, port users said that this Port which has been floated in association with the State government is yet to be inaugurated formally.

Recalling the bad experience they had with MV San Giorgio that occupied one of the berths in ChPT for a long time, the official asked: “What is the guarantee that Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) will allow it to depart. This ship is in the jurisdiction of Chennai district, let the State government or Collector take a call. We do not want to be used as a dump yard.”

Officials from MMD held a meeting to decide on a safe parking space for the vessel in the event of ChPT denying a berth for it. But the meeting remained inconclusive.