Rescued crew members from the sunken offshore barge P305 look out disembark the INS Kochi naval ship after arriving in Mumbai on May 19, 2021 following Cyclone Tauktae landfall on Indias west coast with powerful winds and driving rain, leaving at least 33 people dead and almost 89 missing.
Rescued crew members from the sunken offshore barge P305 look out disembark the INS Kochi naval ship after arriving in Mumbai on May 19, 2021 following Cyclone Tauktae landfall on Indias west coast with powerful winds and driving rain, leaving at least 33 people dead and almost 89 missing.
(Photo by AFP)

Mumbai: The Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas set up a high-level committee on Wednesday to enquire into the sequence of events leading to the stranding of the ONGC vessels during Cyclone Tauktae. The committee will comprise Director General of Shipping Amitabh Kumar,

Director General of Hydrocarbons SCL Das and Ministry of Defence Joint Secretary Nazli Jafri Shayin. The panel will probe the sequence of events leading to the stranding and drifting of the vessels and the subsequent events.

Several ONGC vessels, with more than 600 people on board, were stranded in offshore areas during the cyclone. The stranding, drifting and subsequent events led to the loss of several lives.

The Committee may co-opt other members and seek the assistance of any person it deems necessary. It has to submit its report within one month and will also have to make recommendations to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in future.

The committee has been mandated to inquire into the sequence of events leading to the stranding and drifting of these vessels and subsequent events and whether the warnings issued by India Meteorological Department and other statutory authorities were adequately considered and acted upon. The committee will also probe whether the Standard Operating Procedures for securing the vessels and dealing with disaster management were adequately followed.

Further, the committee will inquire into lapses and gaps in the systems which led to the stranding and drifting of the vessels and offer recommendations on preventing the recurrence of such incidents.

However, Maharashtra Minister of Minority Affairs and NCP chief spokesman Nawab Malik hit out at the Union ministry.

In a series of tweets, Malik said everyone was made aware of the cyclone and warnings were sent out for all to take necessary precautions. “Local government agencies had made arrangements for people in coastal areas to move to safer places and fishermen were asked not to venture into the sea,” he said.

“Then why did the ONGC not pay heed to all the warnings and follow safety protocols?” he tweeted. The minister said they should have evacuated all their workers from the barges and brought them to shore before the onset of the cyclone.

“Due to their failure to do so, lives of 600 innocent workers were put in danger. 60 people are still missing and many have lost their lives due to this negligence. The Indian Navy and Coast Guard are trying their best in this rescue operation,” Malik tweeted.

“Action must be taken against those who are in charge and did not take the decision of evacuation at the right time. They must be held responsible and punished. Central Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas must also be answerable,” he further said.

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