The crew of the tug boat, which was towing a barge, that crashed into Pamban rail bridge on January 13, causing damage, has violated “operational procedure,” according to C. Sylendra Babu, Additional Director General of Police, Coastal Security Group (CSG).
Preliminary enquiries conducted by the CSG revealed that the crew of the tug boat, owned by Kolkata-based Titagarh Marine Ltd. had violated operational procedure while anchoring, Mr. Babu told The Hindu, after chairing a combined high level meeting with representatives of various stakeholders at the Coast Guard Station in Mandapam on Saturday.
The CSG has registered case against the company under section 151 of the Indian Railways Act, 1989, for causing damage to Railway property; he said, adding that after finding out the exact cause for the mishap, the crew would be dealt with as per the law.
The explanations offered by the crew that anchor failure, following gusty winds, resulted in the freak mishap, could not be accepted as they should have obtained the weather report and details of the wind speed.
“In today’s technological development, one could get the weather report on mobile phones,” he said.
He said when Pamban port officials made it clear that they should anchor the vessels two nautical miles away from the bridge, the crew should have taken extreme care while anchoring the vessels.
But on the very next day of their arrival on January 8, the two vessels were hardly 300 meters away from the bridge, he said.
Mr. Babu, after inspecting the repair and restoration work at the Pamban rail bridge, held a combined meeting with the representatives of Indian Coast Guard, Navy, Southern Railway, Pamban Port, Railway Protection Force and Tamil Nadu Railway Police at the Mandapam Coast Guard Station and discussed as how the barge crashed into the bridge.
He said they discussed in the meeting whether ships could be allowed to cross through the bridge as and whey they arrive to avoid such mishaps in future and about the steps to be taken to avert such accidents.
Sources said the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has also filed a case against the private company under sections 154 and 174 of the Indian Railways Act, 1989.
The cases were registered based on a complaint given by R. Sivakumar, Senior Section Engineer (Bridge), Pamban, against Subashish Lahiri, the ship contractor of Corporated Ship Management Services (Pvt) Ltd., Kolkata.