There are nearly 1,500 sailors, many of them Indians, stranded on 74 ships at Chinese ports that haven’t been allowed to offload coal from Australia
NEW DELHI: The government on Friday sought assistance for 39 Indian crew members stuck on cargo ships in China in an “urgent, practical and time-bound” manner, reminding Beijing about the grave humanitarian situation that was developing on board the ships.
While acknowledging statements by China, expressing willingness to extend assistance in this matter, the MEA said Indian authorities were working with the shipping companies involved to facilitate a crew change and that the Indian embassy in Beijing had written to Chinese authorities seeking approval for the same.
While Indian bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand is on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province since June 13 with 23 Indian nationals as crew on board, another vessel, MV Anastasia, with 16 Indian nationals remains on anchorage near Caofeidian port since September 20.
“Our embassy in Beijing has repeatedly taken up these cases both with the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs and also the local provincial authorities, requesting that the ships be allowed to dock and/or the crew be allowed to be changed. They have been following up this matter for the last few months,” said MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, adding that Indian ambassador had personally taken up this issue with the Chinese vice-foreign minister. The issue has also been taken up with the Chinese embassy here.
Claiming to provide sailors help and necessary supplies, Beijing had earlier said China allows crew change while meeting certain quarantine conditions and that the Jingtang port was not in the list for such crew change. The Chinese embassy had said this week the “real cause” of the situation was that the freight forwarder didn’t want to adjust plans because of commercial interests.
The vessels with Indians have been waiting for discharge of their cargo. “There is growing stress on the crew on account of the long delay. Given this and our concern for the increasingly difficult conditions for our crew, these two cases are being pursued vigorously,” said Srivastava.