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Cyclone Tauktae Aftermath: 3 ONGC Executives Suspended Over Mumbai Barge Tragedy

Last month, ONGC Barge P305 with 216 people on board sank off the Mumbai Coast when Cyclone Tauktae was hurtling through the Western coastline of the country.

Mumbai barge tragedy

Image- PTI, ONGC/Twitter

In a massive decision, three top executive directors of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) have been suspended following a high-level committee inquiry by the Centre into the Mumbai barge tragedy which claimed the lives of 86 personnel on board. 

Last month, ONGC Barge P305 sank off the Mumbai Coast when Cyclone Tauktae was hurtling through the Western coastline of the country. The Indian Navy and local police in Maharashtra and Gujarat had launched rescue operations and foot patrolling alongside the coastline to rescue the personnel. 

After the sinking of the ONGC barge, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural gas had set up a panel to probe the incident which is considered to account for one of the biggest loss of lives off Bombay High in history. 

Out of the 261 personnel on board, the barge tragedy after Cyclone Tauktae claimed the lives of 86 personnel on board- 75 from barge P-305 and 11 from tug Varaprada. Based on the technical evidence, the senior ONGC officials have been held responsible for the incident. They have also been held accountable for Barges SS-03, Gal Constructor, and drilling rig Sagar Bhushan as well. 

Following the suspension of the three executive directors, an association of the ONGC-- the Association of Scientific and Technical Officers has demanded a revocation of the order and stated that if not revoked by June 15, it would be 'constrained to take further action' threatening possible protest by its trade unions. 

Mumbai Barge tragedy

On May 16, ONGC barge P-305 sunk in the Arabian Sea with 216 people on board when a powerful cyclonic storm passed over the Mumbai coast. Search and Rescue operations to locate the crew of Barge P305 and Tug Varapradha were augmented immediately by specialized diving teams onboard INS Makar (with Sonar) and INS Tarasa. The Navy also deployed specialized diving teams to boost the search and rescue operations (SAR). After a systematic search by the Indian Navy over the course of a week, remains Barge P305 was located on the seabed on May 22.

On June 4, the body of Captain Rakesh Ballav, who went missing after the barge P305 sinking was identified through DNA matching. Captain Rakesh Ballav along with 10 bodies were identified on Friday, Forensic experts are still working on identifying the remaining 20 bodies which have been recovered following the rescue operations.

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