Carrying out export-import operations via sea route is set to become easier with the Union Shipping Ministry working on 42 amendments in the port operations to simplify cargo maneuvers.
“Out of the four pillars under Sagarmala, two of them (port modernisation and development and port connectivity) focus on removing bottlenecks to bring Ease of Doing Business,” a Senior Government Official said recently adding, “So, for this, 42 items have been identified across all Major Ports which relate to Ease of Doing Business”.
The list, has 42 areas to “reduce cost and dwell-time of cargo” at clearance points at ports. Of these, 20 amendments relate to exports and 22 relate to imports.
Government’s flagship programme, Sagarmala, to push blue economy in the Country focuses on areas like port development and modernisation, port-led industrialisation, port connectivity and coastal community development.
The programme spreads across two decades till 2035 and has 415 projects under its ambit. About 86.5 percent or 359 projects have been planned for port development and connectivity.
The programme will see a total investment of Rs. 8 trillion to make sea-route as a favourable choice for transporting goods.
Maritime transportation of goods was marred by issues such as high cost for handling and transporting goods, shortage of suitable vessels to handle cargo, absence of mechanical handling equipment at ports and slow movement of goods at ports.
“To address these issues, a list has been prepared by the Ministry to identify these concerns and are to be implemented port authorities. The idea primarily addresses Ease of Doing Business, to make things transparent and allow all the stakeholders to share information,” he said.
He said stakeholders like owner of the shipping line carrying goods, the Custom Department, railways, and transporter carrying goods outside port should have all relevant information about the consignment being shipped, time of arrival and time when the consignment will leave the port premises.
“This information will be provided digitally to all of them, reducing dwelling time and waiting time for all the people involved in the process,” he said.
To improve export related activities, the Ministry has suggested setting up of joint traffic management squad consisting representatives from all stakeholders, making gate-CCTV (closed circuit television) footage available to custom officials, ensuring customs officers’ presence in each lane as temporary measure until all clearances are carried out, expanding scope of direct port entry to factory stuffed containers, simplifying port clearance for vessels and integration of customs, port community and terminal systems at the gate among other things.
Some of the steps that the Ministry has suggested for facilitating imports include simultaneous rake inspection while loading rakes, introduction of mobile wallets to enable 24×7 payment to officers at custom duty, increasing volumes for direct port delivery, mandatory advance filing of import declaration, modification of methods for calculating stamp duty of on import container, mandatory issuance of e-delivery order and advance invoices by shipping lines and direct delivery of all facilitated cargo without routing it through any container freight station.
Custom officials, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Directorate General of Shipping, Terminal Operators and respective State Governments have been entrusted with the majority of the task to expedite the necessary amendments in the processes.
India has 12 Major Ports and 187 Minor Ports. As per Government estimates, almost 94 percent of the Country’s freight uses rail or road as a medium to commute even as 90 percent of India’s trade by volume and close to 70 percent by value is via the maritime route.