A day after the registration of offence of culpable homicide against the barge Papaa (P-305) captain Rakesh Ballav and others for the recent tragedy, the Akhil Bharatiya Navik Sangh has urged the Mumbai Police Commissioner to carry out a thorough investigation and institute criminal proceedings including criminal negligence and culpable homicide against AFCON, its board of directors and management, barge owner and all other persons involved in unpardonable incidence that caused precious loss of human life and assets.
In a memorandum, the Sangh office bearers led by BJP MLA Ashish Shelar claimed that AFCONS without getting any approval from ONGC, Offshore Defence Advisory Group, Ministry of Defence kept the vessel in the sea beyond May 15, 2021 which is a gross violation of the norms. AFCON did not get the extension of Naval Security Certificate which is mandatory to sail in ONGC field as per Mumbai port Trust circular no DC/C-SH/4104 dated August 22, 2014.
‘’Unfortunately, despite well defined and described warnings of the gravity of the cyclone, AFCON continued in its commercial operation disregarding the eventuality of vulnerability of human life and assets. AFCON could have easily made arrangements to move the barge to a safer place to secure precious human life and assets of contractors/subcontractors,’’ said the Sangh in its memorandum.
"We also understand that one of the consortium technical marine partners was not active in the said project and hence AFCON could not handle the prevailing situation. The irresponsible and scathing behaviour resultantly caused the barge to sink, injury cost to large number of persons and loss of human life of sizable numbers so far reported,’’ said the Sangh.
According to the Sangh, the master, it seems was guided to go by AFCON’s instruction ignoring the appeal made, safety of the vessel and person on board. The master cautioned that the life rafts/boats are not serviced and have been overdue and therefore an element of risk was enormous.
The Sangh’s move came after NCP Minister Nawab Malik demanded that the culpable homicide offence be registered against barge owner, contractors and ONGC’s principal employer who should be made co-accused in this case. The petroleum ministry has set up a three member committee to probe the sequence of events leading to the stranding of ONGC vessels in the cyclone Tautkae.