The International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam has been a much publicised growth step for the Indian shipping industry as it had been touted to give unparalleled mileage to the cargo transhipment scene in India. It is known that due to the lack of a proper transhipment hub, a large section of Indian transshipment is meted out to neighbouring destinations. This is a major drain in the Indian shipping scene and ICTT was supposed to address this woe. However, post its coming into operation, the ICTT has not been able to woo transhipment containers as had been pictured due to various clogs and drawbacks in its support infrastructure.
According to Kochi based Rajesh M K, owner of Consolidated Shipping Agency, a small-sized shipping agency based in Kochi, “The ICTT has been somewhat of a let down after a bucketful of promises. Ever since its commencement, there has been one issue or the other weighing it down, deterring shipping firms from availing its facilities.”
All that could be curbed now with the Union Ministry of Finance’s new system implementation. In a major step towards facilitating transshipment through India’s first ever ICTT, Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance has ushered in a new system for issuing clearance to containers transported though Vallarpadam. The additional director- Department of Revenue at Ministry of Finance has conveyed the decision of the new system for clearance to the chief commissioner of Customs, Kochi.
According to the memo of the new system, containers from one foreign country headed for another foreign country (moving through sea) via ICTT will be cleared by Special Economic Zone (SEZ) customs. Alongside, containers starting voyage from India and heading towards a foreign country (sea to sea) will be also cleared by SEZ customs. However, the clearance for the containers transported between an Indian port and a foreign port by road or rail to sea or by sea to road or rail should be sanctioned by the Department of Revenue, customs.
The system is going to be implemented with immediate effect and has been communicated to ships calling at Indian ports.
Addressing clearance woes
The new system could ensure a hassle free experience for mainline shipping vessels by bringing clarity in procedures across all level of operations. Besides, it would enable the Vallarpadam terminal to be at par with international terminals as far as procedure is concerned.
Pawan Jaiswal, executive at Travel Franchise Dot Com, a Chennai based small-sized travel agency said in this context, “The new system would help eliminate a lot of chaos and irregularities in the system. Besides, it would help the ICTT gain reputation as a major transhipment hub in the world of shipping. However, it still remains to be seen whether this takes care of all the matters.”
Without any doubt, the announcement of the new system is going to bring enormous relief for the container movement segment across both the domestic as well as international circle as vessels operators were weighed down with the burden of inordinate delays they experienced in getting the clearance of containers. Finally, this seems to be a call of relief for them to help ease the clog at ICTT.
Priyanka Roy Chowdhury