Yesterday, this paper carried a front page report of how at least 36 crewmembers of a dredger vessel called Kamal XL, most of them Mumbai residents, have been living in danger since their ship was marooned mid-sea off Kandla (in Gujarat) since January this year. Shockingly, the company Jaisu Shipping Co Pvt Ltd, owner of the vessel and the employer has practically washed its hands off the affair.
The company left the crewmembers to their fate 14 nautical miles into the sea, because it claimed it was bankrupt. When this paper called authorities a familiar passing- the-buck tale emerged. In fact, it was disheartening to see that nobody took responsibility for priority action, which was to send out rescue boats to bring back the stranded sailors running out of food and medicine.
There is no electricity on board and they are forced to live in such unhygienic conditions. While the company officials gave an unconvincing answer about things being sorted in a day’s time, they evaded all other questions, pretending to be busy in meetings.
Even the Minister of state for Shipping, Milind Deora said that the matter would be taken up by the DG of shipping, while the Director General of Shipping Gautam Bhattacharjee also did not speak about getting the stranded to the shore. The spokesperson for the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) Sunil Nair, however, did stress that the priority is to bring the sailors to the shore.
Most claimed that they had no clue about a vessel and sailors marooned at sea, which also raises serious questions about security. Not to be alarmist, but one has to remember that the 26/11 terrorists entered the city by sea. One is shocked at the apathy towards the (Kamal) XL problem.