Goa Seamen Association of India (GSAI), on Saturday, appealed to the seafarers who have submitted fake certificates to obtain Indian Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC) to come forward and declare about it, as well as file complaints against ‘third party’ agencies that were asking for money to settle ‘penalties’ arising from it.
The Director General of Shipping (DG Shipping) had last year introduced a rule making SSC compulsory to obtain an Indian CDC that seafarers use to work ships aboard. This rule was later relaxed taking into account the job experience of a seafarer.
However, during the intermediate period, many seafarers who were not having SSC certificate, were worried that they would be left with no jobs, obtained fake certificates including that of Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) courses.
In an investigation conducted by DG Shipping, seafarers from Goa, Mumbai and Kochi were found to have submitted ‘forged documents,’ and so, some of them were served notices and debarred from service for five years.
In Goa, GSAI estimates that around 300 to 400 seafarers may get affected, though only around 70 have been issued notices by DG Shipping.
Some shipping companies have also sacked the seafarers who were found to have submitted forged documents.
Speaking at a press conference held in Margao, GSAI founder and spokesperson Dixon Vaz said that “non- registered agents were involved in the forging of documents as well as taking huge amount of money to cancel the punishment.”
“It has come to our attention that many non-registered agents in Goa, who are not authorised by the DG Shipping, have forged STCW course and SSC certificates. The seafarers, who have submitted fake documents, have been identified by the DG Shipping and are barred for 5 years from reapplying for Indian CDC. Some agents are involved in taking huge sum of money from these seafarers, up to Rs 2 lakh claiming that they would cancel the punishment, but I urge the seafarers not to fall prey to such false promises,” he said.
He urged those who have already paid the amount to such agents to report the matter to the association or the police.
On Friday, with the help of the Margao police, an agent from Navelim was caught red-handed while asking for an amount of Rs 2 lakh. After having confessed about the matter and on returning the amount, the case was withdrawn.
The association has also written to DG Shipping, NRI director and Chief Minister requesting for a relaxation in the penalty of debarring for five years.
“Before the relaxation of the SSC clause, many of our seafarers panicked and were scared of losing their jobs. Many were turned back from immigration departments because they didn’t have Indian CDCs. That is why they took such a step. But we have asked DG Shipping to relax the penalty of debarring for five years to a year and allow them to go back on the ships,” said Vaz.
Vaz, during the press conference was joined by one such seafarer Martin Pereira, who admitted that he had submitted fake documents Pereira said that he had feared that he would lose his job.
He is one of the many who were served notices by DG Shipping and is currently debarred from joining any ship for five years.