Salgaonkar Mining Industries Pvt. Ltd. (SMIPL), after raising the ante over the removal of River Princess skipped the crucial meeting of all the bidders that was held on Friday. However, the government is expected to decide on this matter on Saturday.
It may be recalled that when the government invited tenders to remove the grounded vessel, SMIPL offered to remove the vessel free of cost and even issued huge advertisements in the local newspapers over the issue.
As the matter is also before the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court, the government had informed the court that the work would be given to SMIPL and a joint meeting of the bidders would be held. In fact, the tender process was also under cloud with the Goa based Madganvkar Salvage alleging that the process was vitiated to help the Singapore based Titan Salvage.
After the government’s announcement of allotting the work to SMIPL, which had offered to remove the vessel free of cost and suggested that the money saved should be used for public welfare, SMIPL demanded the transfer of ownership of the vessel to them.
Significantly, the ill-fated vessel was leased by SMIPL and was anchored at Mormugao Port Trust from where it drifted to Candolim beach during a major storm 10 years ago. As the vessel was termed a ‘state disaster’ the government impounded it and took over its ownership.
At the meeting held on Friday, the two other bidders reportedly agreed to tow away the vessel without seeking the transfer of its ownership.