Congress demands NIA probe into Goa naphtha tanker fiasco



 A delegation of Congress leaders in Goa met Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday to demand a high-level enquiry into the controversy surrounding how an unmanned tanker carrying nearly 2,500 tons of naphtha was allowed to anchor off the state and the delay in salvaging the vessel carrying dangerous cargo, after it ran aground off Panaji in October this year.

After professional Dutch salvors pumped out the gaseous cargo and towed the vessel to safety on Monday, Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat now claims, that the Chief Minister has assured them of filing First Information Report against chairman of Goa's Mormugao Port Trust and others within 15 days.

In its memorandum, the Congress has demanded that a probe by a Defence Intelligence Agency or the National Investigation Agency be initiated into the affair, because the naphtha -- which has been temporarily stored in tanks in the port premises -- was sourced from Pakistan.

"High level investigation to be ordered into arrival of the said ship including its origin from Pakistan, consignor, consignee, cargo, licences and permissions, etc. The Congress party objects the decision of Government asking Athe Director General of Shipping to investigate the matter, as the said agency itself is responsible to give permission to berth the said ship at MPT Port. We demand that the investigation should be given to DIA or NIA," the Congress memorandum states.

The unmanned tanker Nu Shi Nalini ran aground on October 26 on the rocky shelf off Panaji near Raj Bhavan -- the official residence of the Governor -- after it was caught in a storm off the state, and has not moved position since. The tanker had met with an accident in a Kerala port after which its engines were rendered non functional and was subsequently towed to the Goa port.

A multi-agency operation, involving the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Director General Shipping, the Mormugao Port Trust and other state agencies, was subsequently launched to transfer the naphtha and nearly 50 tons of oil and 19 tons of diesel to other vessels, which failed.

The naphtha was finally pumped out after a week-long exercise ending Monday, with the help of professional salvors from the Netherlands, who had been awarded the tender for salvaging the vessel and its cargo.

"The Chief Minister has told us to give him some time and that an FIR will be filed in 15 days against the MPT Chairman," Kamat said.IANS