Court asks Kochi port to look into seafood exporters' plaint on levy

K. C. Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on July 05, 2011 Published on July 05, 2011

The Kerala High Court has directed the Chairman of the Cochin Port Trust to look into the grievances of the Seafood Exporters Association of India regarding collection of excess terminal handling charges from exporters at the International Container Transhipment Terminal at Vallarpadam.

“If the Chairman finds any merit in the complaints of the Association, he shall take appropriate action,” Mr Justice P.N. Raveendran said in an interim order on a petition filed by the Seafood Exporters Association of India seeking a directive to prevent collecting excess terminal handling charges from exporters at the Vallarpadam terminal.

Petitioners' Plea

In their petition, the association and other exporters pointed out that the India Gateway Terminal Private Ltd (IGTPL), which is operating the ICTT, and the Cochin Steamer Agents Association were demanding charges in excess of the rates fixed by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP).

The petitioners said that the container trans-shipment was carried out at Cochin Port Trust at its Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal till recently. After the IGTPL started operating the ICTT at Vallarpadam, the TAMP had revised the rates for users' services and facilities provided at the terminal. The service providers were governed by the tariff fixed by TAMP. It was the responsibility of the IGTPL that the authorised service providers did not charge more than the prescribed ceiling rates approved by the TAMP.

Higher tariff rates

The tariff rates fixed were under several heads such as gantry crane charges, including lashing/ unlashing, stowage planning, transportation from QC to yard and vice-versa, transportation from container yard to rail yard and vice-versa, handling at container yard while receiving from quay, handling from truck/ rail for delivery/ receipt , wharfage charges, charges for supply of electricity, storage charges etc.

The terminal handling charges include the total of all charges approved by the TAMP. The charges at the ICTT were steeply raised by almost 125 per cent. After revision, the terminal handling charges of a 20 feet container would come to approximately Rs 6,575, and for a 40 feet, to around Rs 8,838.

The petitioners submitted that even the present tariff rates at the ICTT were much higher than that of the nearby ports such as Tuticorin and Chennai. In fact, it was highly prejudicial to the interest of its users. Even though several rounds of meetings and negotiationswere held to reach an amicable and fair pricing, nothing had materialised so far, the petitioners said.

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Published on July 05, 2011
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