New Delhi: India on Friday said it is in continuous touch with the Chinese authorities on the status of two stranded Indian ships and expect 'assistance' in urgent, practical and time bound manner.
"We have noted the statements of the Chinese side, expressing their willingness to extend their assistance in this matter. We expect that this assistance will be provided in an urgent, practical and time-bound manner, given the grave humanitarian situation that is developing on board the ships," MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said in response to media query.
"Our Embassy in Beijing continues to remain in close and continuous touch with the Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin. The Ministry is also following up through the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi for an early resolution," he said.
China has said that there was no link between the situation of Indian crew on two stranded ships and its strained relations with India and Australia. At least 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo.
Srivastava said, while the shipping companies are examining the logistics of sailing the ships away from their current points of anchorage, the Indian Embassy is liaising with relevant authorities in Tianjin for berthing approvals to facilitate the crew change. "We have also requested the shipping companies to ensure that they file in their plans for crew change at the earliest for approvals by the local Chinese authorities."
He said - the MV Anastasia is exploring the possibility of a crew change at sea at its current point of anchorage in Caofeidian. "Our Embassy has yesterday written to Chinese authorities proposing this alternative and sought approval for the same."
The Indian bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand of Great Eastern Shipping company is on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since June 13, 2020 with 23 Indian nationals as crew on board. Another vessel, MV Anastasia, which has 16 Indian nationals as its crew, is on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since September 20, 2020. Both these vessels have been waiting for discharge of their cargo.
There is a growing stress on the crew members on account of the long delay.
The Chinese authorities have conveyed that on account of various COVID-19 related restrictions imposed by the local authorities, crew change is not being permitted from these ports. The concerned shipping companies have been asked to make crew change applications expeditiously.