India calls for early assistance to Indian sailors stranded in Chinese waters
There are 39 Indians on board the vessels which are on anchorage in the Chinese waters for several months
India on Friday called for “early resolution” of issues related to Indian nationals of the stranded vessels MV Jag Anand and MV Anastasia that are on anchorage at the Chinese ports for several months. India also asked Chinese authorities to provide assistance to Indian nationals of the stranded vessels in an urgent, practical and time-bound manner.
“We have noted the statements of the Chinese side, expressing their willingness to extend their assistance in this matter. We expect that this assistance will be provided in an urgent, practical and time-bound manner, given the grave humanitarian situation that is developing on board the ships,” Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said in response to a media query.
These cargo vessels with 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in the Chinese waters as they are not allowed to unload their cargo though some other ships have managed to do so.
This unprecedented situation has resulted in a “considerable amount of stress” on the crew members. As per media reports, the crew members of vessel ships M V Jag Anand and MV Anastasia stranded in the Chinese waters since June 13 and September 20 respectively, have alleged that they have been held captive on a ship without clean water or a doctor on-board.
“There is a growing stress on the crew members on account of the long delay. Given this and our concern for the increasingly difficult conditions for our crew members, these two cases are being pursued vigorously,” Anurag Srivastava said.
He said Indian 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 the crew be allowed to be changed.
“They have been following up this matter for the last few months. The Indian Ambassador has personally taken up this issue with the Vice Foreign Minister. The Ministry (MEA) has also been following this issue with the Chinese embassy,” the MEA spokesperson said.
“The Chinese authorities have conveyed that on account of various COVID-19 related restrictions imposed by the local authorities, crew change is not being permitted from these ports. The Chinese MFA also conveyed in late November 2020 that while crew change from Jingtang port would not be feasible, the shipping company/agent may apply for crew rotation from Tianjin port in China, and that the local authorities would examine after receiving requests for the same,” the spokesperson added.
The concerned shipping companies have been asked to make crew change applications expeditiously.
He said while the shipping companies are examining the logistics of sailing the ships away from their current points of anchorage, “our embassy is liaising with relevant authorities in Tianjin for berthing approvals to facilitate the crew change. We have also requested the shipping companies to ensure that they file in their plans for crew change at the earliest for approvals by the local Chinese authorities.”
“We also understand that MV Anastasia is exploring the possibility of a crew change at sea at its current point of anchorage in Caofeidian. Our embassy has on December 31 written to Chinese authorities proposing this alternative and sought approval for the same,” the MEA spokesperson said.
He added that Indian embassy in Beijing continues to remain in close and continuous touch with the Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin. The MEA is also following up through the Chinese embassy in New Delhi for an early resolution.