Govt Asks Major Ports to Waive All Charges for Ships Carrying Oxygen, Related Equipment

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New Delhi: The government on Sunday said it has directed all major ports to waive all charges for ships carrying oxygen and related equipment amid a massive surge in coronavirus infections across the country. In a statement, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways said it has directed all major ports to accord the highest priority in the berthing sequence to the vessels carrying consignments of medical grade oxygen, oxygen tanks, oxygen bottles, portable oxygen generators and oxygen concentrators.

"In view of the excessive requirement of oxygen and related equipment in the country, the Government of India has directed all major ports, including the Kamarajar Port Limited, to waive off all charges levied by major port trusts (including vessel-related charges, storage charges, etc.)," the statement said. Port chairpersons have been asked to personally supervise logistics operations to ensure unhindered movement of such consignments for berthing of such vessel on top priority in the port, unloading of oxygen-related cargo, coordination with customs and other authorities for speedy clearance/ documentation and expeditious evacuation, it further said.

"We are facing an emergency situation due to the second wave of COVID-19. The major ports will start implementing the direction from today onwards," a senior government official said. Meanwhile,Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterway Mansukh Mandaviya said in a tweet, "Ship 'MV Hai Nam 86' reaches @Deendayal_Port, carrying steel cylinder tubes used for making #Oxygen cylinders. Vessel was given the highest priority for berthing on arrival at Cargo Jetty, owing to oxygen shortage in the country." In case the vessel is carrying other cargo or containers in addition to the above said oxygen-related cargo, waiver of charges on a pro-rata basis, considering the overall cargo or containers handled at the port, should be provided for oxygen-related cargo to such vessels,the statement said.

Theports ministry will monitor the details of such vessels, cargo and time taken in the port from the time vessel entered in the port limits to exit of cargo from port gate, it added. The government on Saturday had waived customs duty on the import of COVID-19 vaccines as well as medical grade oxygen and related equipment.

India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than three lakh daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals in several states are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.

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