'A fortnight more, please'

Mumbai-based ship breaking company needs time to remove its grounded pontoon from South Goa beach; furious locals have threatened a state-wide agitation if it isn’t removed soon

Goa: A pontoon (floating deck) owned by Mumbai-based Arihant Ship Breakers (ASB) ran aground at Arrossim beach in South Goa on the night of April 15, raising concerns about ecological damage to the beach if the ship was not removed soon.

The pontoon is grounded and the area is developing a sand bar
The pontoon is grounded and the area is developing a sand bar

Local MLA and former Goa Environment Minister, Alina Saldanha led protests and has given an ultimatum to remove the vessel, ‘Bhageerath’. The company has been attempting to tow away the pontoon using a tugboat. This attempt failed, when the rope connecting the two vessels snapped. Now, the tugboat has also run aground on the beach, next to the pontoon.

Enraged Arrossim locals have been demanding that the vessels be removed. The Goenchea Ramponkarancho Ekvott (GRE), a representative body of Goa’s traditional fishermen, based in the area, has warned that they would launch a mass agitation if the two vessels were not removed.

Arihant owner, Sanjeev Jain said they would take at least a fortnight.

"It is not a simple job, which can be done in a couple of days. We have to wait for suitable tides. We need a minimum of 15 days. We have to arrange for tugboats, we already have divers," Jain explained.

Jain said the pontoon had been secured in place by two other tugboats, but the rope broke due to rough weather on the night of April 15, leading to the pontoon running aground.

Agnelo Rodrigues, President of GRE, said, "Failure to remove the pontoon will be an environmental disaster. We demand that the pontoon be removed within two days, failing which we will start an agitation."

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