INDIA. Mumbai: While the death toll in the mishap in which a barge and a tug boat were sunk, following the intensification of cyclone tauktae on Monday off Mumbai Coast reached 60, the Indian Navy decided to conduct an underwater search with survey ships and specialized equipments to locate wracks of the barge and the tug on Friday.
So far 188 survivors of Barge P305 and the tug Varaprada which sank in the Arabian sea, have been rescued and mortal remains of 60 deceased personnel have been retrieved and our search will continue for two more days. The Indian Navy will carry out the underwater search for locating wracks of the barge and the tug using survey ships and specialized equipments, Defence spokesman Commander Mehul Karnik told the “Transcontinental Times”.
A complaint against the Master of the barge
In a related development, Mushtaq Shaikh, an Engineer of Barge P 305 lodge a complaint against Captain Rakesh Vallabh, the Master of the Barge P305 at Yellow Gate Police station in South Mumbai on Friday. An FIR No. 21/2021 has been lodged against the captain, Senior Police Inspector Suhas Hemade told the “Transcontinental Times”. The complaint was registered under sections 304(II) (an act done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death), 338 (causing grievous hurt by an act endangering life or personal safety of others), and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Mumbai Police Spokesperson DCP S Chaitanya said, “The captain of the barge acted negligently on the warnings issued related to the cyclone, that allegedly led to the mishap. due to which we have registered an offence. We have so far mentioned the barge’s captain and others in the FIR, and based on the findings of the investigation, we will book more officials. The investigators will also seek necessary inquiry reports from the departments conducting the probe. The statements of more than 50 survivors have been recorded so far”.
In another development, the Afcons Infrastructure Ltd, who had hired the ill-fated barge and other vessels to carry out the ONGC’s work at its Heera Panna, Bombay offshore oil platform, announced a heavy compensation to the next of the kin of those who died in the mishap.
The Afcons stated that it would ensure that the families of the deceased would receive a total compensation equivalent to balance period of service up to 10 years salaries through a combination of ex-gratia pay-outs and insurance compensation. While the modalities of the payments are being worked out, it is estimated that total compensation would range from Rs 35 lacs up to Rs 75 lacs per family.
In a statement, the company on Friday said that it was its moral duty to support not only the families of the deceased persons on its direct rolls but also families of all deceased persons who were employed with its subcontractors. The company stated that the calamity arising from the fury of cyclone Tauktae was unprecedented and it shared the anguish of the affected families.
The company added that it would also be setting up a Trust to support the educational
needs of the children of the deceased through scholarships. Further, trauma and grief counselling is being organized to help the families affected by the disaster. “We can never compensate the loss of a loved one, but in this time of grief, we hope we can relieve the financial loss faced by the family members”, the statement added.
The Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) said in a statement that the ONGC management has decided to extend an immediate relief of Rs.1 lakh to the survivors and Rs.2 lakh for the Brave Nature’s Victims (BNV) and missing persons’ families.
Cyclone Tauktae had hit the Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai in the early hours of May 17, 2021, where ONGC’s major production installations and drilling rigs are located. Three construction barges of M/s Afcons working on a project of ONGC in Western Offshore fields in the Arabian Sea and one floater drilling rig of ONGC were severely impacted in the cyclone.
Since all the anchors of the Barge P-305 had given away, it started drifting and hit an unmanned platform of ONGC resulting in water ingress and eventually capsized at around 1700 Hrs of 17 May 2021. ONGC OSVs (Offshore Supply Vessels) were immediately pressed into service for rescue operation along with INS Kochi and INS Kolkata of Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessel.
ONGC along with the Indian Navy and Coast Guard immediately swung into rescue operations. Indian Navy along with Coast Guard and ONGC are continuing with extensive search and rescue operations. ONGC pays its gratitude to all those who helped fight the calamity.
During this fight against the ferocity of nature, employees on board displayed exemplary courage and continued their efforts to steer barges and rig to safety with beaten down functionality. At this hour, we are looking at rescue and rehabilitation tasks. Our business partner Afcons who was operating the affected barges has been with us in this task. We are saddened by the events and express our deep sorrow at the loss of life and pay our tributes to the BNVs. The combined rescue and search efforts will be continued for few more days and we hope that it will help us save more lives. ONGC has also set up a helpdesk to extend help. ONGC will facilitate the dependent family members of the rescued crew in providing logistics and expenses, the statement added.
In the meanwhile, the Drillship Sagar Bhushan and Support Station 3, arrived in Mumbai harbour undertow. The Indian Naval ships and aircraft including INS Kochi, Kolkata, Talwar, Beas, Betwa, Teg, P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, Chetak, ALH, and Seaking helicopters are involved in the Search and Rescue operations.