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Immigration authorities irritate the EXIM trade in Chennai port

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 immigration department.

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 the meeting..

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.

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