The Indian Government launched a mechanism to keep safe the Indian crew members on board Indian or foreign ships and sailing vessels especially in emergency situations like a pirate hijacking or fatal accidents. Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State (I/C) for Shipping stated that the Ministry of Shipping has prepared a Contingency Plan and documented Standard Operating Procedures for this in consultation with the Ministry of Defence.
The SWFS has implemented five welfare schemes for the benefit of all Indian seafarers and their families:
- Survival Benefit Scheme
- Invalidity Benefit Scheme
- Maternity Benefit Scheme for Female Seafarers
- The Old Age Benefit Welfare Scheme
- Family Benefit Welfare Scheme
The Minister of State for Shipping provided more information on the steps to be taken to deal with exigencies like pirate hijacking and fatal accidents.
Specifically, the steps include:
- Guidelines providing for elaborate anti-piracy measures have been implemented on Indian Ships.
- A Maritime Security Advisory has been implemented for restriction in engaging Indian seafarers on vessels trading solely in Gulf of Guinea.
- Naval escorts are provided by Indian naval ships in the Gulf of Aden since 2008. The DG Shipping, Gol coordinates this with the Indian Navy and Indian and Foreign flag merchant ships.
- Circulars are issued from time to time, laying down actions to be taken by Indian merchant ships, shipping companies and other stake-holders to deal with piracy & armed robbery incidents.
- The DG Shipping, Govt. of India has approved a piracy awareness module/training program to sensitize seafarers about piracy & armed robbery at sea.
- The Directorate General of Shipping has documented Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to deal with fatal accidents of Indian crew members aboard foreign vessels. In such cases DG Shipping, as Indian Maritime Administration, requests the Flag Administration to carry out an investigation, as per the provision of the IMO Code of Conduct of Causality Investigation.
The overall goal of the funding is to provide welfare facilities in general to seamen at ports in India and to seamen engaged as per provisions of section 101 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 while at ports abroad and to invest in any security or keep in deposit with any bank and otherwise deal with any moneys of the Society in such manner as may, from time to time, be prescribed by the Central Government.
According to the Indian Government, the funds provided to the seafarers, so far, are:
Concluding, Shri Mandaviya said that the Government has also formulated a grievance redressal mechanism. A feedback portal is available on the official website of Directorate General of Shipping and the CPGRAM PG Portal.