Inclement weather is putting the brakes on attempts at salvaging a ship — a mini bulk carrier — that ran aground off Kavaratti on August 15. While Essar Shipping Ports and Logistics Ltd., which owns Nand Aparajita, has engaged a company to refloat the vessel and deployed 14 personnel, the Lakshadweep administration has issued notice to the owner to speed up the process.

“In order to avert an oil spill, we sought help from the Navy and the Coast Guard and the ship was de-fuelled soon after it got grounded,” Lakshadweep Administrator J.K. Dadoo told The Hindu.

“The ship was emptied of diesel on August 19, ruling out any possibility of oil pollution or environmental damage,” said B.K. Loshali, Commander of Coast Guard District Headquarters No.4, which has jurisdiction over Kerala, Lakshadweep and Mahe.

However, the rough sea and the foul weather prevented transfer of cargo — 1,300 tonnes of cement and steel. Breakers in the vicinity of the accident site and the choppy sea stood in the way of positioning a barge astride the 2,277-tonne Nand Aparajita for transfer of cargo. “But they managed to erect a ramp from the shore to the vessel for transporting the cement which cured owing to wetness. Over 1,000 bags are left to be removed now and we are putting pressure on them to do it fast and take out the vessel,” Mr. Dadoo said.

M.P. John, Principal Officer of the Marine Mercantile Department, Kochi, said the empty vessel did not appear to pose any threat to the environment; nor did it hinder the passage of ships. “However, the onus is on the shipping company to lighten the vessel and winch it up.”

In response to a query, an Essar spokesperson said the company continued to brief local authorities on the day-to-day progress of the salvage operations.

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