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Handling cargo with caution, 55,238 crew, passengers not allowed to disembark: Official

Handling EXIM cargo with laid down protocols to contain COVID-19 spread, India”s ports saw as many as 1,715 ships mostly from China reaching its shores till Sunday with over 55,000 crew and passengers that were not allowed to disembark, a Shipping Ministry official said on Tuesday.

Of the 1,715 ships reaching Indian shores with cargo between January 27 and April 19, as many as 1,347 ships reached major ports and allowed anchoring at designated places.

“We are strictly adhering to precautions to prevent any further spread of COVID-19 while handling cargo at ports and the government has not issued shore passes or daily passes to 55,238 crew and passengers on board 1,715 vessels,” an official told PTI on Tuesday.

Of the 55,238 crew and passengers on board these ships, 48,261 reached India”s major ports, the official said.

All these crew and passengers were thermal scanned as per the WHO guidelines, the official added.

India has 12 major ports — Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) that handled nearly 705 million tonnes (MT) cargo in 2019-20.

For maintaining smooth operations across its ports the Shipping Ministry has initiated a number of steps that include waiving of rentals.

The government has asked each major port to ensure that no penalties, demurrage, charges, fee, rentals are levied on any port user (traders, shipping lines, concessionaires, licensees etc) for any delay in berthing or loading/unloading operations or evacuation of cargo caused by the reasons attributable to lockdown measures from March 22.

The government has said each major port shall exempt or remit demurrage, ground rent over and above the free period, penal anchorage/ berth hire charges and any other performance-related penalties that may be levied on port-related activities including minimum performance guarantee, wherever applicable.

Besides for existing and operational PPP projects, major ports can permit waiver of all penal consequences on a case-to-case basis along with deferment of certain performance obligations.

The official said that hospitals across the major port trusts have been supplied with personal protective equipment (PPEs) and the arrangement of sufficient staff round the clock has been made.

Ports and PSUs under the Ministry of Shipping have contributed more than Rs 52 crore from the CSR funds towards PM CARES Fund.

Besides, employees of ports, PSUs and other offices of the Ministry of Shipping have contributed over Rs 7 crore from their salaries towards PM CARES Fund. The number of vessels handled by ports during 2019-20 was around 20,837 against 20,853 vessels in 2018-19.
Source: PTI

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