While the customs and the port authorities have become facilitators of
trade in Chennai port as part of the government sponsored initiative of ease of
doing business, the central government’s home ministry wing the Immigration
department has become a thorn in the flesh for the exim trade putting
unnecessary restrictions on the movement of native personnel in the Outer Anchorage
of the Port.
The issue was raised at the general body meeting of the Chennai Ennore
Port Steamer Agents Association (CHENSSA) and the members were unanimous in
flaying the high handed attitude of the Chennai based officials of the
Raising the issue at the two hour long meeting of the general body
Capt. K G Ramakrishnan, CEO of a leading multinational shipping firm based in
the city said the officials go the extent of insisting on stamping the
passports of Indian workers who go out to the anchorage to undertake minor
repairs of the vessels waiting in the midstream. After completing the work at
the anchorage they should report to the immigration and again secure a stamp of
approval from immigration as if they have visited a foreign country. The
anchorage is situated just outside the boundary walls of the port
Curiously such restrictions are unheard of in the ports of Gujarat or
Maharashtra, which remain the prime targets of Pakistan based terrorists.
Immigration authorities there have not imposed such restrictions in these ports
whereas Chennai port has chosen such restrictions affecting the trade, he told
Ironically it is the state owned Chennai port which is the worst
victim of dictates of the immigration officials based here. The port could have
otherwise earned lot of revenue by
allowing commercial activities on the outer anchorage as is the practice in
ports all over the world. If no such
restrictions are imposed on west coast ports, why target Chennai for such
special treatment Mr Ramakrishnan said.
Members felt the Chennai port which is facing severe competition from
neighboring ports and such a negative attitude of the immigration authorities
based in Chennai would hasten the closure of the port. May be this is what they
want said one member.
The members informally decided to take up the issue with the
appropriate authorities so that this harassment is brought to an end.