New Delhi [India], July 10 (ANI): A high-level Indian delegation, led by T.K. Ramachandran, Secretary of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, is participating in the 132nd session of the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.

India, an elected member of the IMO Council in the category of countries with the largest interest in international seaborne trade, emphasized the urgent issue of seafarer abandonment.

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Notably, the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 states that abandonment occurs when a shipowner fails to cover the cost of the seafarer's repatriation; has left the seafarer without the necessary maintenance and support; or has unilaterally severed their ties with the seafarer including failure to pay contractual wages for at least two months.

As per the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, the delegation pointed out that despite efforts, there are currently 44 active cases involving 292 Indian seafarers. India's strong stance on the need for effective measures and oversight to resolve such issues was well received.

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In recognition of its continued commitment to addressing seafarers' issues, India secured its position as one of the eight governments representing IMO in the Joint Tripartite Working Group. This group is dedicated to identifying and tackling seafarers' issues and the human element in maritime operations. Other proposed members include the Philippines, Thailand, Liberia, Panama, Greece, the US, and France.

Speaking about the issue of seafarer abandonment, T.K. Ramachandran stated, "India remains deeply committed to addressing the issue of seafarer abandonment and ensuring the safety and welfare of our maritime workforce. India's participation in the IMO Council session underscores dedication to international maritime cooperation and innovation."

"The establishment of the South Asian Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Maritime Transport is a testament to India's leadership in promoting environmentally sustainable and technologically advanced maritime practices. We look forward to collaborating with global partners to drive positive change in the maritime sector." Ramachandran added

The Indian delegation also addressed concerns over disruptions in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and adjoining areas, which have been impacting shipping and trade logistics. Highlighting India's commitment to maritime safety and security, the delegation cited two significant incidents where the Indian Navy successfully intervened. These included the rescue of a Marshall Island-flagged crude oil carrier, MV Marlyn Luanda, and the interception of the vessel MV Ruen off the coast of Somalia, ensuring the safety of crew members and handling piracy threats effectively.

Furthermore, India reiterated its proposal for the South Asian Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Maritime Transport (SACE-SMarT). This regional hub aims to transform the maritime sector in India and South Asia into a technologically advanced, environmentally sustainable, and digitally proficient industry.

The centre will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fostering technical cooperation, capacity-building, and digital transition. India's leadership in evolving the SACE-SMarT in collaboration with the IMO's global Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs) was highlighted as a significant step towards sustainable maritime development.

The 132nd session of the IMO Council, which commenced on July 8, will continue until July 12, addressing various critical issues and proposals for the future of global maritime operations. (ANI)

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