The Chinese authorities have indicated to India that they were considering the option suggested by New Delhi of alternative modes of crew change at sea of the two cargo vessels on which 39 Indian sailors have been stuck for months in China, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said today.

“We will continue to remain in touch with various relevant Chinese authorities as well as shipping companies to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the crew are taken care of and that crew changes can be effected at the earliest,” he said at a media briefing.

The Indian bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand of Great Eastern Shipping company has been on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since 13 June with 23 Indian nationals as crew on board.

Another vessel, MV Anastasia, which has 16 Indian nationals as its crew, has been on anchorage near China’s Caofeidian port since 20 September. 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 spokesperson said, “With regard to the request of exploring alternative modes of crew change at sea, this possibility has also been taken up with the Chinese authorities, who have indicated that the details for this option are being worked out. We are awaiting these details from the Chinese authorities.”

He said that in view of China’s strict Covid-19 pandemic control as well as various travel restrictions in place, the Chinese authorities have outlined detailed steps to ensure the smooth movement of new crew to China to effect crew change.

These steps have to be complied by the concerned shipping companies. On the military stand-off at eastern Ladakh, the spokesperson said the two sides have agreed to hold the next round of senior commanders’ meeting.