Trying to get 29 Indians freed from pirates: Minister

June 25th, 2011 - 10:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 25 (IANS) Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan Saturday said the government is working hard to secure the release of 39 Indian sailors who have been held captive by Somali pirates and said the government favours greater global co-operation against piracy.

“We have been raising the issue in all the international forums to build international pressure,” Vasan said while speaking here at the first anniversary of the ‘Day of the Seafarer’.

“The Directorate General of Shipping and other government agencies are continuously engaged in the process,” said Vasan.

International Maritime Organisation, London, last year declared June 25 as the ‘Day of the Seafarer’ and dedicated it to the services and contribution of all maritime personnel.

Vasan said piracy can be best tackled through international cooperation and joint patrolling by the world navies under UN supervision.

Expressing happiness at the release of all 22 crew members, including six Indian Seafarers of Egyptian cargo ship MV Suez, Vasan highlighted the threat posed to international shipping by piracy.

“India is one of the major manpower suppliers to the world shipping industry, contributing about six to eight percent of the total manpower,” Vasan said.

“The Indian seafarers are regarded highly especially in specialised categories. The ministry of shipping has already taken many initiatives for their welfare,” he added.

He announced welfare initiatives including a contributory annuity scheme for seafarers.

Vasan said seamen clubs would be established at all major ports and land would be given by the ports at concessional rates to establish these clubs.

The function was also attended by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma, Secretary Shipping K. Mohandas and Director General of Shipping S.B. Agnihotri.

Agnihotri said the Indian shipping industry has demanded armed guards to be posted onboard merchant ships.

“The ministry of shipping has accepted the proposal and the consultation process is on with other concerned wings of the government. A decision is expected soon,” he said.

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