Maha engineer’s promise to return home remains unfulfilled

Mumbai, May 20 (PTI): He had got married just two months back and promised his family that he would finalise his wedding photo album on his return home from the barge.
But for the family members of 37-year-old Vishal Katdare, his promise will now remain unfulfilled as he lost his life after the accommodation barge P305 that he was on, was hit by cyclone Tauktae and sank on Monday.
Katdare, who was from Ambarnath town in Thane district of Maharashtra, was a quality control engineer on the barge. He was among the 37 persons from the barge, whose bodies were brought to the Mumbai shore by the Navy on Wednesday.
Speaking to PTI, Katdare’s friend Pawan Kulkarni said, “I knew Vishal since we were in Class V. He was a simple man, who was fond of his family.”
“He had got married just two months back and his wedding photo album was yet to be finalised. Vishal had told his family members that he will choose the photos and decide about other aspects of the photo album on his return from the barge that was scheduled on May 26,” he said.
However, when the family members and friends got the news of his death, everyone went in shock, Kulkarni added.
Katdare’s family comprises his 80-year-old father, 75 -year-old mother, his wife, elder sister and brother. He was the youngest sibling, he said.
“He had lots of dreams and wanted to do a number of things for the family, but everything is over now,” he said.
Kulkarni said Vishal and his 32-year-old colleague Deepak TK were in water for more than 12 hours before being rescued by the Navy.
The Navy found Vishal in a semi-conscious state and he died after the rescue. However, Deepak is alive, he said.
“Deepak told us that Vishal had caught hold of him from behind and they were in the same situation till they were rescued,” his friend said.
During their attempt to remain afloat, Vishal told Deepak that it would be his last time of being offshore and he will never return to the job again, he said.
According to Kulkarni, they collected Katdare’s body from the J J hospital in Mumbai after the post-mortem.
“We found that his face and hands had turned whitish as he had remained in water for a long time…After we took his body home, nobody could hold back tears on seeing his mourning family members,” he said.
Katdare was not able to swim, but despite that he was given the job. Same was the case with Deepak TK, he said.
“How can a company ask people to go on such duty without providing proper training to handle such situations?” he asked.
Kulkarni sought to know that although everybody was aware of the cyclone, why the barge was not brought to the shore.
“Vishal went on the barge last month. After the cyclonic winds hit the barge and it started sinking, he messaged his wife around 1 pm on Sunday,” he said.
In the message, he told her that due to the cyclonic situation all the barges are moving towards the shore and theirs was also likely to move ashore and they would return safely, he said.
“An investigation should be carried out to know why the barge remained in the sea despite the warning,” he said.
AFCONS company, where Katdare worked, had to take a call about moving the barge ashore, but it didn’t, he alleged.
“Somebody told us that the captain of the barge was stubborn to carry on as he was sure that the cyclone will not harm them,” he said.
But as the barge started sinking, the captain jumped into the water without a life jacket, he said.
As many as 37 personnel on board the barge have died, while 38 are still missing after the vessel, working on an ONGC project, sank in the Arabian Sea.

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