Home » Over 40,000 Indian seafarers stranded across globe due to lockdown

Over 40,000 Indian seafarers stranded across globe due to lockdown

by Raju Vernekar
0 comment 3 minutes read

IT News
Mumbai, April 14

The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate steps to ensure speedy return of over 40,000 Indian seafarers stranded across globe due to COVID-19 and resultant lockdown.
In a petition to Modi and Union Minister of Shipping Mansukhlal Mandaviya, NUSI has pointed out that the seafarers, including those on board the cruise ships, who have finished their contract are stranded abroad. They have been accommodated onboard their ships. Some of the seafarers who have signed off from their ships are held up in hotels abroad. Seafarers cannot come back to India or sign on / sign off. Some of them are stuck within India due to the lockdown.
With every passing day there is a growing concern, unrest and fear among the seafarers and their families. As such the Government should ensure their speedy return to India, assist those stuck within India, facilitate sign on / sign off in Indian ports and their safe passage to their respective homes, NUSI General Secretary Abdulgani Serang said  and added that NUSI is doing its best to financially support Indian seafarers in the current scenario when Indian economy is passing through a rough phase due to pandemic across the globe.
He said NUSI has earmarked a corpus of Rs 10 crore to support retired Indian seafarers, disabled seafarers, widows of seafarers and jobless seafarers who have been out of job for the past nine months. This includes compensation of Rs 6 crore for retired seafarers and Rs 4 crore for working seafarers. “NSUI Corona Relief fund” will directly send Rs 3,000 to the accounts of 20,000 retired, medically unfit seafarers (or widows). Similarly Rs 5000 will be sent to all seafarers, who have not sailed after 01 July 2019.    
The stranded seafarers include over 15,000 onboard about 500 cargo vessels and another 25,000 on cruise ships across the globe. NUSI has also advised all its seafarers to send individual petitions to Modi and Mandvia requesting for their early return to India.  
NUSI, MUI and MASSA have also raised the issue with the shipping ministry, which has assured to all possible help for the return of these seafarers after the lockdown is lifted.
“ We are waiting to seafarers to return since their job contracts have expired,” said Capt Shiv Halbe, CEO of Maritime Association of Shipowners, Shipmanagers and Agents (MASSA). He said that in recent video conference meeting, the issue was raised before Manadaviya, who assured safe passage of seafarers to India, once the lockdown is lifted.
During the meeting with Mandaviya, the representatives from ports sector raised concerns on high port operation cost, port congestion, shortage of labourers, movement of workers and truck drivers, among others, due to the lockdown. India has 12 major ports — Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Kutch, Gujarat, JNPT, Navi Mumbai, Mormugao, Goa,  New Mangalore, Karnatak, V.O. Chidambaranar, Tamil Nadu, Cochin Port, Kerala, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), Tamil Nadu, Paradip Port,Odisha,  Visakhapatnam Port, Andhra Pradesh, Haldia Port and Kolkata Port, Andhra Pradesh.
In the meanwhile seafarers’ families are of the opinion that some of the seafarers could have been brought back by Air India planes which recently ferried medical equipment and other  items to nearly 26 countries. These planes returned India almost empty.

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