This includes allowing mariners on ships that are already at Indian ports to disembark when the lockdown is partially eased on April 20.
The standard operating procedure to facilitate return of seafarers is likely to be finalised by Friday, a top source at the Shipping Ministry told The Hindu.
“In the first phase, we will allow seamen on ships docked at the Indian ports to disembark and sign off. In the second phase, those on ships in deep sea will be allowed to return by sea. And in the final stage, we will permit those who have disembarked from their ships and signed off in a foreign country,” the source said.
“Those in deep sea have already been quarantined in the vessel and they can be allowed to return earlier,” the official explained.
He said seafarers on foreign land would be allowed to return to India only when the government lifted its ban on flights and allowed other Indians stranded abroad to return.
According to estimates, there are nearly 3,000 seafarers on ships at Indian ports, while 20,000 are on various cruise liners around the world.
“The government’s decision on allowing those at Indian ports to disembark at the earliest will benefit coastal shipping companies and offshore vessels and ships with Indian seafarers heading for foreign countries. This will also be an opportunity for cruise liners to halt at Indian ports for crew disembarkation,” said Sanjay Parashar, chairman, International Maritime Federation.