New Delhi: The Centre has set up a high-level committee to enquire into the sequence of events leading to the stranding of ONGC barges in Cyclone Tauktae. In an official statement released on Wednesday, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas said, "Several vessels of ONGC, with more than 600 people on board, were stranded in offshore areas during Cyclone Tauktae. The stranding, drifting and subsequent events have led to loss of several lives." The government has also directed the committee to submit its report within a month.
The high-level committee constituted to inquire into the incidents will comprise of Amitabh Kumar, Director General of Shipping, SCL Das, Director General of DGH, and Nazli Jafri Shayin, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence. The Committee may co-opt any other member, and take the assistance of any person it deems necessary, the ministry has said.
The high-level committee will inquire into the sequence of events leading to the stranding and drifting of these vessels, and subsequent events, whether the warnings issued by the Meteorological Department and other statutory authorities about Cyclone Tauktae were adequately considered and acted upon and whether the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for securing the vessels and dealing with disaster management were adequately followed. The panel will also investigate lapses and gaps in the systems leading to the stranding and drifting of the vessels and provide recommendations to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of operations being undertaken to rescue the stranded employees on a barge operated by Afcon for ONGC. The Navy said that its forces, battling extreme weather, had rescued 186 out of 273 employees who were onboard the barge that capzised in the sea. Around 22 employees onboard barge P305, which went adrift and then sank in in the Arabian Sea, are dead while 65 are still missing, the Navy said.