JNPT draws up plans to avert logjam as Covid-19 throws trade out of gear

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on April 10, 2020

89,000 boxes lying at some 34 container freight stations

A multi-pronged strategy has been crafted by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Customs and Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) to check India’s busiest container gateway from getting clogged as evacuation of import containers is hampered by shortage of labour and trucks in the wake of a three week nation-wide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

About 89,000 containers are lying at some 34 container freight stations (CFSs) that service JNPT of which 9,000 containers have been granted out of charge (OOC) by the Customs.

Import laden boxes arriving at a port are typically moved to nearby CFSs, an industry practice designed to de-congest the ports.

OOC refers to a container on which duty has been paid, Bill of Entry has been filed and it is ready to be taken delivery by the importer. But, due to lack of transport, factory closure or non-receipt of delivery order, these 9,000 containers have not been cleared by the importers.

“The biggest problem is that the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is barricaded at Kalamboli. So, how will the containers go,” asked a trade source.

Kalamboli is a transportation hub located at the junction of the Sion-Panvel Highway, NH 48, Panvel By-Pass, NH 66 and the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

To speed-up evacuation of direct port delivery (DPD)/DPD-CFS/CFS containers lying at terminals of JNPT by rail, CONCOR’s inland container depot (ICD) located at Mulund, on the outskirts of Mumbai, will act as an extended gate of JNPT from Saturday.

Customs has declared ICD Mulund an “Extended Port Gate" of JNPT in respect of clearances of DPD containers, Sanjay Mahendru, Commissioner of Customs, Jawaharlal Nehru Custom House (JNCH) wrote in an April 9 public notice.

“They need to create space in JNPT so that the port doesn’t get clogged,” said a person involved in export-import trade. “Since the DPD containers are not been picked up by anybody directly from the terminals now, they are shifting all DPD boxes via rail to Mulund ICD,” he said.

CONCOR will move DPD containers en-block by rail from all the terminals at JNPT to ICD Mulund for delivery to importers, by providing trans-shipping and handling services and supply of rakes for carriage of containers, Mahendru said.

“This will entail an additional cost of as much as ₹5,000 per container to the importer, but the larger goal is to avoid JNPT from getting choked,” a trade source said.

The container will be delivered to the importer at ICD Mulund only after out of charge is given by Customs.

The Customs has also advised the CFSs, through a letter written on April 9, to take substantive steps to evacuate the 9,000 containers that were given OOC by the Customs, to non-bonded area, godowns elsewhere or even to the importer’s premises.

“The Customs have said that CFSs can shift the OOC containers to empty yards or to a non-bonded area to create space in CFSs and give delivery from there because customs duty has been paid on such containers,” an executive with a CFS said.

The Customs has also approved 43.27 hectares of land at JNPT as integrated centralized parking zone for loading and unloading of imported goods, Mahendru wrote in another public notice on April 9.

“Hopefully, if deliveries start picking up by at least 25-30 per cent of the normal rate, then terminals can function comparatively better,” the trade source said.

Mahendru said that the movement of DPD containers from JN Port terminals to CFSs will be suspended from April 10.

From April 10 to 13, the JN Port terminals will allow delivery of DPD containers to importers at the Port / Terminal gate, he added.

Published on April 10, 2020

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