New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry has extended relaxation to several agriculture and commercial industries from the lockdown restrictions. In the commercial sector, shops selling textbooks and establishments selling electric fans can also operate.
In the agricultural sector, the relaxation has been extended to facilities for export or import such as pack houses, inspection and treatment facilities for seeds and horticulture produce. It also includes relaxation to research establishments dealing with the agriculture and horticulture activities and the inter- and intra-state movement of planting materials and honey bee colonies, honey and other beehive products.
The Union Home Ministry also also ordered Standard Operating Procedure for the sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers (crew members) at Indian ports and their movement. According to the SOP laid down for sign-in of a Indian crew member, the ministry said that the seafarer will have to intimate their travel and contact history for the last 28 days to the ship owner or the recruitment and placement service.
The SOP can be followed through email, as per procedure laid down by the Director General of Shipping.
In a late development, the Home Ministry released a detailed SOP for disembarking and subsequent repatriation of seafarers stranded in ships and different ports-of-call across the world in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The development, which was welcomed by Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant late on Tuesday, comes on a day when more than 60 Goan crew-members onboard cruiseship Marella Discovery, anchored off Mumbai, had released a video urging Sawant to allow them to disembark urgently, with the ship scheduled to sail for Europe on Wednesday.
“I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for permitting the disembarking of seafarers at Indian ports. Goans stranded on the high seas will now soon be back home. I would request all the seafarers and their families to support the government in safe return of all our stranded brothers and sisters,” Sawant said in a social media post on Tuesday.
According to government sources, the cruiseship currently has more than 100 Indian sailors, out of which more than sixty are from Goa.
Earlier on Tuesday, after the video by the ship’s Goan crew members went viral, the Opposition MLAs urged Sawant as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s urgent intervention in the issue.
“The crew member however will be tested for COVID-19 before boarding the ship and will be allowed to sign-in only if he is tested negative,” the ministry said.
“For sign-off purposes, the Indian seafarer arriving on the vessel would undergo the COVID-19 test for confirmation that he/she is negative for COVID-19,” it added. The crew member will be kept in a quarantine centre until the report arrives.
According to Goa CM Sawant, more than 8,000 seafarers of Goan origin, are stranded in various anchored ships and ports-of-call across the world. Sawant had said that the process for repatriation would only begin after the SOP was released by the MHA.
The SOP mandates testing of all sailors disembarking on Indian ports for Covid-19, followed by quarantine at a facility operated either by the port or by the respective state government where the port is located, until the test reports are received.
“If the seafarer is tested as positive for COVID-19, he/she will be dealt as per the procedures laid down by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the SOP states.
“For the seafarers tested negative and signed off, the local authority in the area where the seafarer disembarks will be intimated about his/her clearance for sign-off and for issue of a transit pass from the place of disembarkation to the place of his/her residence,” it also states.