The Sandheads in the Bay of Bengal have become the Waterloo of many a ship in the Indian waters. Merchant ships continue to 'sink' at regular intervals here. A vessel is said to have been caught in high tide or choppy waters, but it is actually dismantled deliberately and drowned illegally. And even though the practice has been going on—mostly in secret for the last few decades—the authorities have woken up only now to the massive environmental hazard posed, as also to the flourishing international insurance racket on the side. Not to mention the unknown number of human lives lost. Yet, in the absence of punitive action, the multi-billion dollar 'business' continues to boom. According to official estimates, during the last 30 years, no fewer than 81 ships have sunk precisely at this spot in the bay, close to India's sprawling eastern coast. In the last 17 months alone, three ships have gone down here in extraordinary circumstances.
The Sandheads is a body of water around 127 miles southeast of the Calcutta port in the Bay of Bengal. On April 13 this year, Genius Star, a Malaysian vessel with a crew of 18 on board, went down. Prompt rescue measures saved most seamen, except two. According to reports reaching Calcutta shipping circles, the ship was carrying a load of wooden logs which came unstuck as high waves buffeted it.