Dubai: Indian sailors in distress abroad now have a new centre to directly report their grievances.
It is the latest measure taken by the Indian government to stop exploitation of Indian sailors after a high number of them got stranded in UAE waters in recent months, whose plight has been extensively reported by Gulf News.
In the new development, the Directorate General of Shipping in India has created a centralised nodal point called ‘DGCOM’ (the Directorate General of Shipping Communication Centre) for reporting all complaints and grievances of Indian seafarers.
A circular issued by the DG Shipping in this regard has been published by the Indian Consulate in Dubai on its website www.cgidubai.org for the benefit of seafarers who get stranded in UAE waters.
The Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul said DGCOM will be a one-point communication centre to address the grievances of Indian seafarers.
“Any Indian sailor falling in distress abroad can register the grievance to the centre which will address the issue in coordination with relevant authorities,” he told Gulf News.
The establishment of the centre follows a number of cases reported by Indian seafarers stranded at foreign ports with non-payment of wages for months, non-availability of provisions on board foreign flag ships, according to DG Shipping.
“…any person receiving information about such cases should intimate such cases to the Directorate General of Shipping Communication Centre along with the details of the ship and IMO number, port at which the ship is anchored or its next port of call, name and INDoS number of the seafarers, name of RPS, name of the shipping company etc,” its circular stated.
Vipul pointed out that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had been working with DG Shipping on taking measures to ensure that Indian seafarers do not get into distress.
“There have been several steps taken in the past few months to help such sailors. Consulate has also been helping sailors with the support of the Federal Transport Authority of the UAE and Indian authorities.”
Authorities had time and again issued intimation for all Indian seafarers to be cautious and take employment only through registered companies with Recruitment and Placement Service Licence (RPSL).
Many cases of distress have happened to those who have not taken their employment through a registered RPS firm in India and were engaged directly on foreign ships or through unrecognised/unauthorised agents.
Subsequent to Gulf News reports about the plight of nearly 100 Indian sailors stranded in UAE waters in the summer months, India had tightened recruitment rules for sailors and mandated their employment only through the eMigrate online system in August.
Legal help for sailors
Last month, India also permitted its missions abroad to utilise a community fund for addressing the needs of distressed Indian sailors.
In the new guidelines for the Indian Community Welfare Fund, the government of India has enabled the missions to also give legal help to the seafarers who fall into distress, said Vipul.
However, he said takin gup these issues legally requires a lot of time due to the cumbersome processes involved.
“But now at least that option is there so that we can lodge cases on behalf of our seafarers in courts if they are not being given food, water and salary and the ship is located in the territorial waters of the UAE or on the port. It would be a lengthy process and that might be the last recourse we will have to resort to.”
How to contact DGCOM
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Address: DGCOM Centre, 3rd Floor, Nau Bhawan,
10, R.K. Marg, Ballard Estate, Mumbai, India