ChPT claims Rs. 1.20 crore dues, insists on revalidation of certificates

The Madras High Court on Thursday confirmed the sale of MT Pratibha Cauvery for Rs. 16 crore.

The motor tanker ran aground near Elliots Beach here on October 31 last year during cyclone Nilam. Six sailors aboard the tanker lost their lives.

After it was stranded, the tanker was docked in the port limits of Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) in view of the cases filed by various parties seeking an early settlement of their claims, including the compensation that was sought by the families of the deceased sailors.

The tanker was auctioned to clear the dues of the stakeholders and the successful bidder paid the sum to the registry. Earlier, the court had accepted the sale of the motor tanker. Justice R. Sudhakar confirmed the sale and permitted the ship to sail.

Talking to The Hindu, a ChPT official said: “We have been told that the ship can sail out. But, we will let the ship go only after getting our dues of Rs. 1.20 crore. Till yesterday, the ship was in the Court’s custody. From today, they have to pay berthing charges of Rs. 74,000.”

According to sources, the ship has one or two persons posted on board on guard duty. It might take at least a few days for the tanker to sail out of Chennai Port, the sources said. The new owners might tow it out or power it to make it seaworthy once again, or send it to a scrap yard.

For sailing out of the ChPT, the owner has to get all the certificates revalidated and receive clearance from the mercantile marine department too, the official said.

Sale of another ship gathers pace

Meanwhile, the High Court has appointed S. Buvaneswari as Advocate-Commissioner to sell MT Chemical Arrow, now lying at the Port of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, by public auction. The tanker had been arrested by the Madras and Bombay High Courts due to money owed to creditors.

Justice A. Arumughaswamy passed the order on an application filed by the Master of the ship and 20 other crew members through a counsel. The power agent for the applicants, M. Krishna Sreethar of Ayanavaram here, submitted that the ship owners were M/s. Gila Maritime, S.A., Majuro, Marshal Islands. The crew consisted, among others, Ukrainians and Filipinos and they are on board the ship.

The ship arrived at Tuticorin on February 12, carrying liquid caustic soda to the Visakhapatnam port. Prior to its arrival at Tuticorin, the ship had experienced an engine problem. About 30 nautical miles from Visakhapatnam, the engine completely failed. The owners then declared salvage operations from February 27. The ship had to be towed to the Kakinada port.

The counsel argued that the owners had not paid wages to the crew members and the dues to be paid to the port were increasing. The applicants had asked the court to appoint an Advocate-Commissioner to sell the tanker.

The Judge ordered that, after receipt of tenders, the Advocate-Commissioner should file a report along with the tenders before the court on June 10.

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