New Delhi: Out of the 41 Indian sailors stuck aboard two ships which have been stranded off the coast in China for over seven months now, 23 are going to return back home by the end of this month.
On Saturday, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Mansukh Mandaviya, tweeted that 23 Indians stuck on Jag Anand were all set to return home.
He tweeted, “Our Seafarers stuck in China are coming back to India! Ship M. V. Jag Anand, having 23 Indian crews, stuck in China, is set to sail toward Chiba,Japan to carry out crew change, will reach India on 14th January. This could only happen due to the strong leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
The Minister also said that the seafarers will reach Chiba port in Japan on 14 January and after following due Covid 19 protocols they will be able to fly back home.
The 23 Indian sailors who have been on board the Indian flag bearing ship Jag Anand, have been cleared to return home in India; however, 18 other Indian sailors who are stuck aboard the Swiss-Italian MV Anastasia ship just miles away from Jag Anand are yet to hear from the Indian government or their Chinese counterparts.
These two ships are currently at the Caofeidian anchorage point in Bohai Sea in China and just about 30 km away from the Chinese port of Jingtang.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to Gaurav Singh who is onboard the Swiss-Italian MV Anastasia and according to him, the Indian crew members from their ship have not yet been contacted by the Indian authorities or any Indian ministries.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Gaurav said, “We are 16 Indian crew members who are still stuck at the anchorage point off the Chinese coast; we have got to know from the news that our fellow Indians, who were stranded onboard Jag Anand, are going back home, but we have not yet been contacted by the Indian government. We are still tense. We once again through you request the Indian government to help us and save us from here.”
Gaurav also told this newspaper that the crew members from Jag Anand are being evacuated since their receiver has agreed for a crew change and the movement of the ship, while the receiver of the goods from their ship, Jiangsu Steamship Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based company, has not agreed to move the ship.
These two ships were carrying Australian coking coal to China, but owing to growing economic and political tensions between Australia and China, the Chinese government decided not to offload the coking coal that was being brought in from Australia into China, leaving the crew members of the ship with no option but to stay put with the ship.
The Chinese foreign ministry earlier said that the vessels were stuck at the ports only because of quarantine measures, dismissing speculation that the problem stemmed from the ongoing stand-off between the two countries of China and Australia.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the Indian Embassy in Beijing continued to remain in close and continuous touch with the Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin.