Stranded Indian sailors return from Scotland, get stuck in Delhi due to smog

Nov 10, 2017, 11:45 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Punjab man Vijay Kumar finally returned to India after being marooned in a ship off Scotland for more than 16 months, only to be grounded in Delhi by the smog while his family still waits for him in Amritsar

Punjab man Vijay Kumar finally returned to India after being marooned in a ship off Scotland for more than 16 months, only to be grounded in Delhi by the smog while his family still waits for him in Amritsar

Family responsibilities have finally led to two of the six crew members on board the seized Malaviya 7 near Scotland to return to India. But the poor weather conditions in Delhi stalled the reunion of one of them, Vijay Kumar, 40, with his family after 16 months, due to cancellation of services on Thursday afternoon.

Vijay Kumar (third from left) and Captain Ashish Prabhakar (wearing cap) with the other crew members
Vijay Kumar (third from left) and Captain Ashish Prabhakar (wearing cap) with the other crew members

Captain Ashish Prabhakar returned to Mumbai in the early hours of Thursday. While efforts to contact him did not yield results, mid-day could reach out to Vijay at the Delhi airport, where he spent entire Thursday, due to non-availability of a connecting flight to Amritsar.

mid-day, in the past few weeks has highlighted the plight of not only the sea fearers, but also the staff at the Mumbai office of M/s GOL Offshore Limited, which has not paid them for over a year.

The company, which was once amongst the top employee friendly organisations in the shipping industry, and an investor's favourite on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), with a share price anywhere between Rs 800 and Rs 850 until mid-2000, hit the lowest price of Rs 10.10 on July 18, 2017.

No money to travel
"The company would transfer around $1,100 (over Rs 70,000) in my bank account and my wife Narender Kaur, 38, could meet the expenses for our two sons Rishab Kumar, 12, Anurag, 10, and ailing father Sri Bishan Das, 76," Vijay said. He has not been paid for 16 months and the company owes him over Rs 11,20,000.

Vijay claimed he only had Rs 500 in cash and 50 Euro (around Rs 900) when returning. The 50 Euro was given to him by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) seafarers union. He said he would always return with chocolates from abroad for his kids, but this was the first time had had nothing to give them.

When asked why they decided to leave now, Vijay said, "There was no point in being on the vessel with no money or future. Also the family need my presence as there were instances when my children or my father was unwell, and my wife had to take over the responsibilities. Thankfully the tickets were sponsored by the locals." Asked about support from Indian High Commission in Scotland, Vijay replied in the negative.

A ray of hope
The Malaviya 7 crew has finally got a reason to smile as they have learnt that the vessel was sold. Captain Ashish and Vijay had left before the rest of the crew learnt this. Clay Vaz, a crew member on board said, "We do not know the exact amount for which the vessel has been sold. We are hopeful to return to India soon."

When asked about the dues, he said, "They will be cleared as per the norms laid by the court. We have been asked to leave the vessel by November 25, so we are counting the days." Another crew member said, "In September 2017 the Aberdeen Sheriff Court had directed the vessel be sold to recoup the wages owed to the crew (Approximately 6,12,000 pounds) by GOL Offshore Limited, which was under liquidation."


 

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Sixteen
No. of months after which Vijay Kumar returned to India

11 lakh
Money the company owes him (in rupees)

Four
No. of crew members remaining on Malaviya 7

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