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Health of crew stranded on detained Indian in UAE deteriorating fast: captain

Press Trust of India  |  Chennai 

The health of the 18 crew members of the Indian merchant ship Maharshi Vamadeva, detained at the port in the since last June, is deteriorating fast with rapid weight loss, high stress and multiple ailments, says the of the ship.

Maharshi Vamadeva, a gas carrier, was detained by port authorities for alleged non-payment of dues by ship owner Varun Global, a company under liquidation due to bankruptcy.

The crew members have limited access to essentials like and water and have not been paid their full wages, master of the vessel told over mail and WhatsApp from

The present batch, managed by Gurgaon-based Darya Shipping Agency, joined the vessel in February this year after the initial crew was evacuated following protests, he said.

Two days ago, was evacuated on medical grounds after severe chest pain on June 4.

The 44-year-old from Ratsar Ballia in was admitted to the Medical Centre.

The medical report, a copy of which is available with PTI, says, "On 5-6-2018: He complains of left-sided chest pain with increase in severity since today morning. Repeat ECG shows new changes suggestive of Ischemia. He is started on antiplatelet, IV heparin, statin and other supportive care."

Krishna is worried for the other 18 crew members, all Indian nationals, left behind.

"The physical condition of the crew members is worsening day by day. We are not being paid salaries. Multiple requests to the authorities have not fetched any result so far," Krishna said.

members and others have written to various authorities, including the of Shipping, the and the External Affairs Ministry, seeking their intervention.

According to a mail sent to Indian and UAE authorities, one of the men has been showing signs of "mental disarray", sleeping during anchor watch, acting aloof and not responding to orders.

"... it's up to all authorities to decide on his medical care, evacuation etc. before he makes further damage to himself... And this is just another case, managing 18 human lives day by day is becoming a daunting task for me. Please do something before we get mad," the has requested in the letter.

According to Captain Rajesh Deshwal, some of them have been suffering from ailments like chicken pox and there have also been reports of alarming weight loss.

"This can cause permanent disability and mental trauma to them and their families," he told over the phone.

The crew has not received salaries for the past five months, Deshwal disclosed, claiming that he had been paying them in his individual capacity.

The crew draws salaries ranging from Rs 60,000 to Rs 8 lakh per month, he said, adding that he might not be able to continue it further.

The company, Deshwal said, was made to sign a contract by the Insolvency Resolution Partner (IRP), appointed by the to take over the insolvent company on behalf of the and manage all activities of the company.

"They asked us to take over a vessel, owned by of India which was the lead mortgagee for the vessel. We said we cannot unless we are paid. So SBI called us, signed a contract and told us they will make regular payments. They made an initial remittance of around Rs 1 crore too. Once the crew was there, they stopped payment and said they wouldn't make any payment until the vessel is sold," he alleged.

SBI did not respond to an email sent for comments.

Varun Global, the primary owner of the ship, also could not be reached over phone or email.

Other than concerns over the crew's deteriorating health, Krishna has flagged issues related to the vessel itself.

"The vessel is a threat to marine traffic at congested anchorage of Fujairah. The vessel is hazardous due to LPG vapours in the tank. Due to insufficient spares, fire alarm sensors are having various fault alarms. The including the Wreck Removal certificate have expired. If someone can understand the gravity of the situation please take decisions...," he said in a mail dated May 30 to various authorities, including the Ministries of External Affairs and Shipping.

According to Deshwal, the tankers are filled with gas and it will be like a bomb in case of a fire.

"If there is bad weather and the ship starts drifting towards the shore, the crew won't have control. They cannot start the engines because there is no fuel or power," Deshwal said, adding that the crew members could get arrested for trying to leave the ship and could lose claim over their salary for "abandoning ship".

The first crew managed by Fleet Management Ltd, too, faced similar problems with no food, water, fuel and salary, Krishna said.

"They protested from June 2017 to February 2018, after which our crew managed by Darya Shipping reluctantly agreed to join the ship," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 14 2018. 13:20 IST
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