By Ashoke Raj
New Delhi [India], November 8 (ANI): Indian merchant ship 'Jag Anand', belonging to a Mumbai based company Great Eastern Shipping Limited, is stuck at China's northern 'Jingtank' port since June and crew members are seeking help to return home.
23 Indian crew members are stuck on the ship and living in unpleasant conditions. Many crew members are suffering from health issues and running short of medicines with each passing day.
The crew of the ship contacted ANI and gave a brief detail of their current situation on the condition of anonymity.
"We boarded the ship in January. Currently, we are loaded with around 1.70 lakh tons of Australian coal. This ship was chartered by a private entity. We left from Australia in May and arrived at the Jingtang port in China by June 13 and for five months we are here stuck at the Chinese port with no updates," a crew member from the Jag Anand ship told ANI over the phone.
"We are 23 Indian crew members on board and living in a very unpleasant situation. We want to return to our homeland. Chinese port administration is not allowing us to unload our cargo here and they are not giving a reason either. We informed our company about the situation and they are trying to set up communication through diplomatic channels," he added.
Jag Anand merchant ship comes under Mumbai based Great Eastern Shipping Limited and the company's senior official has informed to Director General (DG) Shipping office to take the matter to the Chinese counterpart.
"The company is doing all the possible efforts to sort the matter at the earliest, we have raised the matter with DG, Shipping and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) too," an official from the Shipping Company told ANI.
We sought for an official statement on the above issues through the mail but shipping company's reply is still awaited.
"We want to go back to our homes, we have been on the job for over 15 months and haven't seen our families. Many crew members are running short of medicines. We are afraid of the pandemic too. Our simple and humble request to the company's management is to talk to the company which chartered the ship and allow us to unload cargo and go back home," another crew member told ANI.
Meanwhile, crew members have urged their company to find an alternate rescue plan by talking to Japan if China is not ready to allow the unloading of cargo.
"We are ready to sail the ship to the nearest Japanese port and change the crew member. But the company told us that all these efforts were under process," another crew member told ANI.
Many crew members have high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension and some were injured during the journey and are running short of medicines and first aid.
Family members of the crew wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar regarding the situation and sought immediate relief.
"Due to severance of diplomatic ties between China, the Australia vessel is on anchor since June 13. The Customs authorities have not cleared the concerning cargo. At present, most of the crew have ended their stipulated contractual obligation and been on board for more than a year, some of them even exceeding 15 months. Despite various attempts by the company through diplomatic resources, there has been no respite to crew sufferance who have been inflicted with not only physical stress but mental fatigue. During this time of the pandemic, families of the crew are alone which further adds to the aggravation of onboard staff. The deteriorating health of crew members is also a major concern with some being declared unfit by the company doctor," a letter read.
The Chinese government has changed the import rules and regulation on Australian coal, forcing around 20 bulk carrier queue up at the China port to unload their Australian coal over the last few months. (ANI)