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Customs clearance no longer a cause for increase in dwell time of ships in ports

Customs clearance is no longer a cause for delay in ships turn around in a port, for nearly 88 per cent of the time the cargo is held up in a port, it is for reasons other than clearance from export import duty collecting agency.

That customs clearance is no longer an impediment for the fast turn round of vessels in ports is revealed in an elaborate survey conducted by an agency recently in all major ports according to Mr Prakash Kumar Behera Commissioner of Customs, Chennai said last week.

The customs official was speaking at a seminar on South India Port Conclave organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry on ease of doing business in ports.

He said the customs is persuading the cargo agents to file the bill of entry before the arrival of the vessel so that the processing time could be reduced to barest minimum.

Mr Behera said his organisation's obsession as a regulatior has taken a back seat during the last few years and trade facilitation has now reached the front seat and driving force of the organisation.

Under the risk management scheme, hardly fifteen per cent of cargo is examined physically. The direct port delivery program of imports have taken off in big way in all major ports  with Katupalli port near Chennai opting for 42 per cent of the total cargo handled under this category. In the case of Chennai port, the Direct Port Delivery of imported cargo accounts for 20 per cent of the total turnover.

Under this scheme the imported cargo moves directly from the port to the importers ware house or the factory premise where customs examination takes place. This reduces the transaction time by a few days. Encouraged by the success of the programe the customs have introduced Direct Port Entry for Exports.

He said the Indian Port Association is planning to import Container Scanners for Chennai port. Once the scanners are in place at Chennai port, hardly one per cent of the containers may need examination, he said.

He said the though the customs have provided the trade 24X7 facilities for the trade in all the major ports and airports, there were hardly any transactions at sea ports after 8 p.m. Still the facility is being continued for the benefit of the trade he said

Mr M A Bhaskarachar, Chairman of Kamaraj port said the port plans to have one hundred per cent direct port delivery of imports to facilitate seamless movement of cargo

Steps are also being taken to improve road connectivity to the port situated about 30 kilometers North of Chennai. The South Access road to the port is being expanded from four to six lanes. The state government's road development agency will be laying the North Port Access Road.

On the rail front the track doubling work will be taken up soon from the Port to Athipetu railway station on the Chennai Vijayawada rail corridor.

Mr.Cyril George Deputy Chairman of Chennai Port said the port has offered land within its premises to all the agencies that come under the single window clearance including Animal, Plant quarantine, drug control departments. The land allotment to these departments will be done on line.

The port plans to double the direct port delivery of imports to forty per cent during the current financial year.

Easing of congestion and facilitating evacuation of cargo from a port situated in the heart of Chennai city is a continuous process he said. The ten year old wait for the Ennore Manali improvement scheme a six lane coastal road linking Chennai and Ennore ports will be over soon with the removal of encroachments at NTO kuppam and fisheries harbour. The Rs 600 crore project will be fully commissioned shortly he said.

The resumption of work on Chennai port Madurvoyal Elevated Corridor project to facilitate faster evacuation of containers will start soon after the national highway authority of India completes the revised project report. Once commissioned within two years containers can move from the port to the Calcutta highway within thirty minutes.

Chennai port will soon become a cashless port with all financial transactions routed through banks.

Mr Venkata Ramana Akkaraju, Deputy Chairman of Cochin Port said Direct Port Delivery accounts for 26 per cent of the imports.

The cargo growth which was 4.3 per cent during 2014-15 has jumped to 6.79 per cent during the last financial year.

The Port which started the bunkering of ships with a modest turnover of ten thousand tonnes eight years ago, has handled three lakh tonnes of bunkers during last year. The port plans to expand the facility by providing bunkering to vessels in the midstream.

In container segment the port handled 4.9 lakh teus during last year and port has set a target to handle 5.58 lakh teus during the current year.

Berths to ships are allotted on line and ship agents need not have to attend a berthing meeting of Traffic managers like in other ports.

Mr Raghu Shankar, Executive Director of the Chennai based International Clearing and Shipping Agency said the facilities for electronic transactions by the customs should be stepped up and made foolproof.


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