Rs 1 billion in Fines Waived for Nepali Importers at Kolkata Port
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Nepali importers have received waivers of about Rs 1 billion in detention and ground rent at the Kolkata Port for the lockdown period. Vineet Kumar, chairman of Kolkata Port Trust informed that fines for Nepali importers were waived because of their inability to transport the containers shipped from third countries due to the ongoing lockdown in India which is in place since March 22. According to him, Nepali importers have received Rs 930 million (INR 580 million) in waivers in detention and ground rent at the port.
Of the total amount, Rs 880 million has been waived in detention charges to shipping companies and Rs 50 million in ground rent to the port authority. Earlier, the government of India had directed port authorities of the country not to fine importers and levy them additional charges for the period of March 22 to May 3. However, importers won’t be receiving such waivers after March 22 even the lockdown has been extended till May 31. The Indian government has relaxed the ongoing lockdown from May 3 by easing transport and movement of people.
Nepali importers enjoy free time of 15 days for Nepal bound road containers and 20 days for rail containers at the Kolkata Port. They are required to pay ground rent if they do not clear their shipments from the port after the end of the free time. The port authority has said that the free time will be calculated before March 22 and after May 3. Similarly, shipping companies provide free time of 14-21 days. Nepali importers who get five days to return the containers after the shipments are made to the Birgunj Dry Port; they are required to pay detention charges if they do not return the containers within the stipulated time. According to the Kolkata Port authority officials, some shipping companies have waived detention charges on the basis of mutual understanding with Nepali importers even after May 3. Over 4,000 Nepal bound containers were stuck at the port after the sudden halt in transportation and movement of people due to the lockdown imposed by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus. The containers were transported to nearby freight station (CFS) after the space at the port got constrained due to increased numbers of shipments. Kolkata Port Authority Chairman Kumar informed that the CFS operator has been directed to provide Nepali importers an additional 15 days of free time to transport the containers.