KARACHI: A vessel carrying coal cargo is pictured after it ran aground near Mubarak Village on Wednesday. The ship ran aground after big sea waves steered it from its route towards a rocky surface of the beach in the morning.—PPI
KARACHI: A vessel carrying coal cargo is pictured after it ran aground near Mubarak Village on Wednesday. The ship ran aground after big sea waves steered it from its route towards a rocky surface of the beach in the morning.—PPI

KARACHI: A coal cargo vessel of a power generation company ran aground near Mubarak village in the early hours of Wednesday morning, sources told Dawn.

Part of Karachi’s West district, the coastal village is located at the Sindh-Balochistan border, some 46km away from the main city. It is home to a large fishing community.

When contacted, an official of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) confirmed the incident but declined to share details. “We have got the information that a cargo vessel of a Balochistan-based power generation company ran aground near Mubarak village,” he said, adding that there were reports that the vessel was carrying coal.

The department, he said, was trying to contact the Balochistan Environmental Protection Agency and a Sepa team would visit the site in the morning.

Speaking to Dawn, fishermen said the vessel carried coal and was anchored near the Churna Island. It drifted away due to intense winds and waves and got grounded at the rocky surface of the beach near the village.

Churna Island, part of Balochistan, is located some six kilometres away from Mubarak village.

“The surroundings of the Churna Island are currently being used as a point to offload and upload imported coal from big vessels onto the small ones from where the consignment is taken to Hub for power generation,” Haroon, an area resident, said, adding that there was no crew on the vessel.

Sharing villagers’ concerns about the ship’s grounding, he said fishermen had not yet recovered from the 2018 incident of oil spill which badly affected marine ecology and livelihood. “Its memories still haunt us. The fishermen suffered huge losses but the government neither compensated them nor held anybody responsible for the disaster, which was widely reported in the media,” he regretted.

The increasing transportation of coal in the area, especially around Churna Island, a major biodiversity hotspot, posed a great threat to marine life and fishermen’s livelihood, he said.

According to sources, the barge belongs to China Power which runs a coal-fired power plant in the area and is a subsidiary of Hubco.

Talking to Dawn, Hubco CEO Khalid Mansoor said the barge was anchored in the location but “because of strong winds the anchor broke and it drifted towards the shore.” He said the barge was expected to be afloat again once high tide returned late on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. “There is a small quantity of coal in it and it is secure so there is no danger of leakage” he said, without specifying the exact quantity.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2020