27-06-2016

Mission Is Successful: Capt. Sanjay Prashar, Director, International Maritime Federation

CSP

A disturbing issue that has been observed during the recent times, is the existence of Unlicensed Indian agents that have sent over 1,000 seafarers to Iran. Out of which a majority of Indian seafarers, mostly from states like Punjab and Maharashtra are employed on 'dead ships' at Iranian ports. According to the seafarers who have returned to India from Iran have revealed that seafarers who have illegally gone to Iran are neither paid proper salaries nor given proper food to eat.

Capt. Capt Sanjay Prashar, Director, Inetrnational Maritime Federation has been instrumental to bring the plight of these seafarers to light. This issue came to the attention of the world when Seaman Ranjit Singh went missing from dead Iranian Ship at Bandar Bushehar and the death of Palash Balsetwar, a deck cadet working for the ill-fated ship MV Mashhour who lost his life as the ship sank late on the night of March 15, 2016 near Iran. These incidents have served as wake up call for the industry. Capt. Sanjay rose to the occasion and met several such seafarers. He has become instrumental towards the eradication of this unfortunate problem and putting in a great deal of efforts to spread awareness about it as well.

He has been able to arrange a task force from Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of shipping which went to Iran for meeting the affected seafarers. They looked into illegal immigration means by which Indian seafarers are on Death ships of Iran.  He travelled along with them. The delegation visited Iran to discuss the strategy for repatriation of Indian seafarers who are stuck at various ports of Iran, and have have been sent there illegally.

During the visit of Indian delegation, it's come to light that the number of Seafarers might swell to more than 100 within one week. Indian delegation at Bandar Bushehar met seven Indian Seafarers who explained how Indian agents in collusion with Iranian agents are milking money out of poor seafarers. On an average, Indian Seafarers getting employed on small Iranian ships pay about USD 7000 to board the ship. They get paid 150 USD per month only after completion of 12 months onboard service. Some of them are without food and water also.

Great progress has been made due to these initiatives in eradicating the activities of such unlicensed agents, following are some of the positive outcomes,

  • The Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of External Affairs dispatched a four-member fact-finding team to Iran to investigate a job racket involving thousands of Indian youths duped by illegal agents in India. The fact-finding teams include MK Luther, Joint Secretary in the MEA, JK Sao Protector General of Emigrants in the Ministry of External Affairs, Amol Kirtane, Deputy Director General Shipping in the Shipping Ministry and Captain Sanjay Prashar of the Mumbai-based International Maritime Federation.
  • The team is discussing the strategy for the repatriation of Indian seafarers stuck at various Iranian ports, allegedly sent there illegally.
  • The four-member team is to also request Iran's Port and Maritime Administration to advise registered ship owners to employ only those seafarers whose recruitment and                       placement agencies have been approved by the Director General of Shipping in India.
  • The officials are to fix a time table for repatriation of Indian seafarers trapped at Iranian ports.
  • Harbour Masters of all Iranian ports have asked inspectors to visit every ship including Fishing Vessel, Tugs, Dhows, Merchant Ships. Meet all Indian Seafarers and list their grievances such as no payment of salaries, no repatriation, false promises for placement on big ships but seafarers end up tug boat, dead ships and crew boats.
  • Indian embassy at Tehran and Indian Consulate at Bandar Abbas have opened special counter and one point of contact for all Indian Seafarers in Iran. They will follow up regularly with Government of Iran on the status of Indian Seafarers stuck in Iran.
  •  As per Indian embassy, 12 Indian Seafarers have returned home after their grievances have been resolved.
  • IMF companies will meet Iranian Ship Owners soon to find 1000 jobs for Indian trainees with MLC 2006 compliances.
  • Government working for policy changes for seafarers to avoid illegal migration of Seafarers.

Source: Kavita Mishra/ TST Newsdesk

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