It was really a happy New Year for the Palkar family in Kothrud, as their 30-year-old son returned home after being stuck on a stranded vessel for over two testing months. Mangesh Palkar worked as a second engineer on the Pratibha Indrayani ship that had to anchor in the Arabian Sea, barely 35 nautical miles from Mumbai.
Palkar and one of his colleagues were relieved following their medical condition. According to Palkar, the vessel was asked to anchor because the company — Pratibha Shipping Company — had violated the Det Norske Veritas rule. Narrating the ordeal, he said, “We were returning from Mundra in Gujarat. On October 29 we reached near Mumbai, but were not allowed to sail any further. We were clueless about the restriction, and soon a month had passed. We were later informed that the ship was arrested.”
He added that a sense of fear prevailed on board, and everyone was scared with no sign of their return back to the shore. “I survived on rotten food, as the perishable and frozen food had started decaying. I and my other colleagues had lost our sleep and had become weak due to lack of proper food and water. Besides, the fuel stock too was getting over, and there was a fear of a blackout,” said.
Palkar was overjoyed when he saw a Tuck boat coming towards the ship. “I somehow knew that soon I’d be out of here. The boat brought us to the coast on December 31, and I am glad to be with my loved ones in the New Year,” he exclaimed. Palkar, who was hired by the company in June last year on a four-month contract, alleged that despite going through all the suffering, the company didn’t even pay him his salary.
“The reason that was given to me was that the company is suffering losses.” Palkar said the condition of 33 other employees, who are still stranded on the ship, was no different. Palkar’s mother Madhumati said that the family had been calling the shipping company every single day to enquire about Palkar’s well being, and had even travelled to Mumbai to meet the owners, but to no avail.
“There was no money left with Mangesh, and we had to top-up his phone so that we could be in touch with him,” she said. Despite repeated attempts, Sunil Pawar, owner of Pratibha Shipping Company, remained unavailable for comments.
My little girl doesn’t recognise me: Palkar
Palkar had left for Gujarat just 20 days after he became a father to a baby girl. “I was sure that I’d would return home in four months. I had planned that after I return I’ll organise the naming ceremony of my daughter,” he said. As the family didn’t want to celebrate the occasion without Palkar, they had put the ceremony on hold. “The hardships that I had experienced is nothing when compared to the pain I go through now when I see that my little girl doesn’t recognise me,” he lamented.