Two agents held for fuelling Pratibha woes
By Express News Service - CHENNAI
28th November 2012 08:37 AM
Two employees of MT Pratibha Cauvery’s shipping agent were arrested by the city police on Tuesday, after it was established that the agent had failed to provide fuel to the ship, leading to the accident.
The police had summoned K Jeyaraman (54), branch manager, Seaworld Shipping and Logistics Private Ltd, and the firm’s operational assistant Chittibabu (46), for interrogation.
According to police, ship Captain Carl Fernandez had communicated with the shipping agent for fuel several times over email, but the agent had informed the Captain that they would not be able to provide fuel.
In the wake of cyclone Nilam, the Captain had reportedly sought help from Vessel Traffic Management Services, Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) and the Director General for Shipping for help with fuel.
The VTMS had directed them to their agent, who turned down the plea stating that they had not received payment from the shipping company.
The Captain made a distress call to the agent on the fateful day over email, citing the risk to the lives of the sailors, and asked for fuel to sail out, in order to evade the cyclone. The agent, in their response, summarily rejected the plea and asked the Captain to sail out. Subsequently, the Captain raised the anchor and moved the ship which ran aground costing lives.
Police sources said that criminal negligence was made out as the agent did not take any measures to save the sailors of that vessel, despite knowing that their lives were in danger.
The case registered under section 174 of CrPC was altered to section 302 (ii) of the IPC to facilitate arrest.
The two were produced before a court in Saidapet, which remanded them in judicial custody.
Meanwhile, the call for the arrest of the ship owner is getting louder with activists wondering why the police had not taken any steps to arrest Chairman & Managing Director Sunil A Pawar of Pratibha Shipping Company Ltd. National Coordinator of Sailor’s Helpline Manoj Joy told Express that those responsible for the ‘unseaworthiness’ of the ship should be arrested. The ship ran aground near Oorurkuppam on October 31. Six of its sailors lost their lives in their bid to save themselves.
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