Mumbai ports eager to resume normal operations

Mumbai, Aug 12 (IANS) The government’s prime concern is to restore normalcy at the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) at the earliest, Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan said Thursday.

‘Operations at both the ports have (started) partially and we will be able to restore total operations in a day or two,’ he said here.

The minister said there will be no shortage of petroleum or related products over the next few days.

‘The accident appears to have happened due to communication errors. The Directorate General of Shipping is carrying out investigations and it will be premature to comment on the reason for the collision,’ Vasan said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan promised complete coordination in the matter.

Five days after two ships collided near Mumbai harbour, skeletal maritime activity was resumed here early Thursday.

‘However, the assessment of the ecological loss and the claim of compensation process will take three months,’ said Director General of Shipping Satish Agnihotri.

‘Seven ships have so far been allowed in and nine out of Mumbai port,’ said Rahul Asthana, Chairman of MbPT.

‘I cannot say whether we will be able to increase the number of ships. But I can say that criticality of cargo will be given importance. We might allow bigger ships and vessels,’ Asthana said.

The ships that were allowed in were escorted by Indian naval ship INS Matanga through the approximately 200-metre-wide main shipping channel leading to the MbPT and JNPT.

‘The tilt of the ship has been reduced to around 60 degrees as against 80 degrees earlier and only one container has fell into the sea today. Twenty-six falling containers have been secured,’ Vasan said.

The Indian Navy’s INS Yamnua Wednesday launched a survey of the entire shipping channel leading to and from the two main ports to trace out the sunken containers.

All normal maritime activities had come to a halt in Mumbai since Saturday when MSC Chitra and a St. Kitts cargo carrier MV Khalijia-III collided, around five kilometers off Mumbai.

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