Beached dredger off India’s west coast causes environmental concerns

Aerial top view of container cargo ship in the export and import business and logistics international goods in urban city. Shipping cargo to the harbour by crane. Credit: IHS Markit

Trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) Bhagvati Prem has been beached on Surathkal Beach in Mangalore, India, since 31 October 2019. According to Indian newspaper The Hindu, the vessel was anchored by New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) when it terminated a contract with the dredger’s owner, India-based shipping company Mercator. During an inspection, Bhagvati Prem’s hull was found to be damaged, and as conditions at sea were rough, NMPT made the decision to beach the vessel to prevent it from sinking.

The trust has given Mercator a week to inspect the vessel to assess damages in order to make repairs so that it can be towed away. Mercator has, in response, said it plans to send a team to carry out the tasks, The Hindu reported on 2 December.

According to IHS Markit data, Bhagvati Prem was still unmoved on 4 December.

The Hindu reports that NMPT has requested that the port trusts of Cochin and Mumbai prepare a report on the condition of the vessel.

If Mercator fails to tow away the dredger, the trust says it will auction the vessel.

According to Mercator’s website, it operates nine dredgers, as well as other vessel types. Another of its listed dredgers, 2006-built TSHD Tridev Prem sunk in NMPT waters on 2 September and is yet to be salvaged, reported The Hindu.

Concerns about the environmental impact that the 2007-built, 7,500 mhopper-capacity dredger is having, as it lies anchored on Surathkal for more than two months, have been expressed. Students and staff from the College of Fisheries, Mangalore, visited the site on 2 November. According to The Hindu, the college said that the vessel’s presence on the beach could cause significant damage and should be towed immediately. It could cause beach erosion and affect the region’s fishermen, said the experts.

DPC sought comment from Mercator and NMPT but had received no response at time of publishing.