The practice is prevalent in other ports
Shippers in Kochi have expressed concern over a move by the Department of Customs to levy light dues on on-deck cargo as per provisions under the Light House Act, 1927.
At present, there is no practice of imposing light dues on on-deck cargo at Kochi port, though the practice is prevalent in Visakhapatnam, Goa and New Mangalore ports, industry sources said.
The Customs Department had issued a public notice in 2008 drawing attention to a Gazette notification of 2000 from the Department of Shipping, which said that ships engaged in international trade and arriving or leaving any Indian port were required to pay Rs.8 a tonne as light dues.
The public notice said that ships generally paid light dues on net registered tonnage (NRT) of the ship and that vessels carried containers in holds as well as on the deck.
Dues for using deck
But under Section 12 (1) of the Light House Act 1927, ships that utilise the open space on deck or any space utilised in addition to the gross registered tonnage for carrying containers or any other cargo are liable to pay the light dues.
The notice was clear on its directive when it said that the owner, masters of the ships and agents were liable to pay light dues for ships which utilised open spaces on the upper deck for carrying containers or any other cargo or utilised space not included in the NRT.
Access to be denied
The notice was also clear that no port clearance would be granted to ships until the light dues were paid.
Shipping sources here said that both containerised and other cargo would be affected by the move to realise light dues and the dues would be payable for both ships coming into the port here and those departing from here.