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Princess removal: CM assures inquiry into scrap sale row


 Stating that the monitoring committee for the removal of the grounded River Princess vessel, which will meet on April 5 and would take final call on ‘no cure no pay’ clause of the contract, the Chief Minister,
Mr Manohar Parrikar on Monday said  the government will ask Arihant Ship Breakers to remove the remains of the vessel still embedded in the sea, as per its contract with the government.
“The contract has been signed with Arihant Ship Breakers on the ‘no cure no pay’ basis and since the company has not completed the work, we will not make any payments to it until the job is done,” he maintained, pointing out that prima facie, there is some element of truth in the allegations made against the company, as regards fraud in the sale of the metal scrap, resulting from cutting of the vessel.
“We will investigate through the vigilance department, if there is any fraud into the scrap sale,” he assured the Calangute MLA, Mr Michael Lobo, who alleged that `14 crore by way of fraudulent sale of the scrap is already in the possession of the company. 
The Chief Minister also assured the state legislative assembly during the Question Hour that the bank guarantee furnished by Arihant Ship Breakers before removal of the top portion of River Princess has already lapsed, and the same has been asked to be encased.
The Mumbai-based ship breaker company had already been asked to renew the bank guarantee of `10 crore, which it had submitted on being allotted the tender to break and remove the grounded vessel in March 2011. The bank guarantee submitted was valid up to February 13, 2012 which was later extended up to August 12, 2012.
The company after cutting above-the-sea-level part of the vessel had claimed that the work was complete. However, these claims were proven wrong after a survey report of the National Institute of Oceanography stated that a portion of the ship admeasuring 180m x 40m is still lying on the seabed.
The Minister for Tourism, Mr Dilip Parulekar said that if any documentary evidence is made available to the government as regards the fraud in the sale of metal scrap, it would greatly facilitate the government in related investigation.
“As regards the underwater debris of River Princess, the department of tourism has already requested the additional general manager (SR and GES), Goa Shipyard Ltd, to appoint an agency having expertise in the field of salvaging to assess the weight of the wreck,”  he revealed. [NT]

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