The lockdown period to fight the Coronavirus has brought families together. Many Goans who work or study in other states returned home to be with their families. However, approximately 10,000 families in Goa are still hoping for their sons to return home. Yes! Our Seafarer Goan brothers need your attention, Mr CM. They need united voices of Goans to bring them back.
In the past few days, I have seen my Goans appealing the state government to look in the matter of Goan seafarers. The COVID-19 lockdown has left thousands of our Goan brothers working on cruise liners stranded at sea. So far there is no decision made on their repatriation. From our homes, we can only imagine their plight. We can only imagine the stress their family must be undergoing currently.
It’s a crisis so let’s not delay the decision-making process
Question No 1: Is the State Government too dependent on the Centre?
Does the State Government have any plan as of today? While we need to understand that since different countries are involved in the process the Central Ministries would represent the country but as of today there has been a delay and even those seafarers on the domestic boats are stranded. When several countries are using their chartered flight to receive their citizens, why can’t the Central Ministry along with State Government use the date available with Goan Seamen Association of India (GSAI) and at least initiate the process?
They are our brothers, stranded and awaiting help!
Question No 2: Is the delay to bring our brothers home justified?
GSAI representative Dixon Vaz had met the Chief Minister a few days ago urging him to act on the matter. According to him, the conditions on-board is a matter of concern in terms of supply of food and space. Many crew members are stuck around the world as the entry into the ports have been denied by the countries. Centre and the State government are aware of this situation yet one wonders why this matter isn’t on the priority yet.
Here is what is the need of the hour:
- Goa Government should chalk out a plan, instead of 100% dependency on the Centre. The issue is of utmost priority to Goa and hence, the onus is first upon the State Government.
- Like the countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines sent special fights to repatriate their crew, India must consider this as the first option.
- An immediate rescue committee must be formed, headed by CM, Ministry-in charge, Seafarers association with State Administration and Health Officials to lay out a list of the men stranded in India and abroad. The men can be divided into the groups and they must be placed under quarantine not anywhere else but in their home state. The State Government must include all hotels/ guest house as quarantine centres.
- The demand for testing kits should be placed for timely delivery
- And lastly, the State Government must send an assurance to our boys to put themselves together in these tough times.
COVID19 Pandemic is a Health & Humanitarian Emergency
Let’s understand COVID-19 is not just a health emergency but equally humanitarian crisis. Away from their homes, families and hometown, these men are desperately awaiting help. With each day’s delay, the risk of their health and well-being gets aggravated. Let’s acknowledge, the help must reach faster.
[Deepali Desai is an independent journalist. She has had over 9 years of experience working with India’s top TV news channel including Times Now, NDTV and NewsX]