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Coronavirus | 17,000 seafarers will return only after policy is finalised

Seafarers stuck on a vessel at a port in Iran. File photo: Special Arrangement

Seafarers stuck on a vessel at a port in Iran. File photo: Special Arrangement  

‘How they are brought back will depend on govt policy on allowing people to come from outside’, says senior Shipping Ministry official

Indian seafarers around the world would be allowed to return to the country after the the ban on flights goes and the Government of India finalises a policy on repatriation of Indians, according to a senior official of the Shipping Ministry.

Also read: Indian seafarers stranded in Iran due to global shutdown

As per government estimates, there were nearly “16,000-17,000” seafarers who need to be brought back to the country. “How they are brought back will depend on the Government of India's policy on allowing people to come from outside. Whatever policy is finalised, the same will be followed in the case of the seafarers also. We will wait for the policy to be firmed up. We are in touch with the shipping companies and they are willing to follow that policy,” the official said.

Various shipping companies were also finalising different modalities for sending back their staff to their countries and until then “seafarers are safe on cruise ships,” the official said. “These sailors have been accommodated in separate passenger cabins on board different cruise ships. They are being monitored, paid salaries and provided all amenities”.

It was the responsibility of the shipping companies to repatriate their staff. “They realise that. They are only waiting for the right opportunity,” the top source said.

On whether the government is likely to make special allowance to facilitate mariners to return before the ban on flights is lifted on April 15, or in case it is extended, the official said, “there is hardly a week left for the lockdown to be lifted; there is no point in rushing into it. It is also safer for the seafarers so that those who are not infected don’t fall sick.”

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 12:07:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/17000-stranded-indian-seafarers-return-only-after-policy-formulation/article31290267.ece

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