Commissionerate is facing staff shortage
The agency has to fulfil certain conditions
MANGALORE: Starting cargo operation at Bajpe airport of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) appears to depend on a State Government undertaking that has reportedly evinced interest in handling cargo, fulfilling certain conditions put forth by Mangalore Customs Commissionerate.
The commissionerate has declared the airport fit for handling only bags of passengers. For cargo operation to begin at the airport, the commissionerate has to declare it fit to handle cargo.
John Joseph, Commissioner of Mangalore Customs Commissionerate, said that his office was facing a shortage of manpower.
The commissionerate had no sanctioned staff (exclusively for airport) to handle customs-related operation at the airport.
As there were only nine international flights a week, the commissionerate had deputed nine of its staff for duty at the airport.
These staff had to work at the Customs House in the city during the day and at the airport at night when international flights operated.
They were not paid extra allowance for working at the airport for extended hours. However, the commissionerate was managing its operations at the airport.
In this situation, it was not possible for the commissionerate to depute more staff to carry out customs-related duties in the cargo handling section if cargo operation was to begin. As a State Government undertaking had evinced interest in handling cargo, the commissionerate had suggested that the examination of cargo could be done on the premises of New Mangalore Port at Panambur. Transportation of cargo from the airport to Panambur (Customs House is located at Panambur) could be done in sealed containers.
The commissionerate had put forth certain conditions to the State-owned agency before starting cargo operation. If it fulfilled the conditions, the commissionerate could take steps to declare the airport fit to handle cargo. The AAI had said that it had separate space to handle cargo, Dr. Joseph said.
He said 33 customs officials were needed at the airport to handle customs duties. Of them, 25 were needed for the passengers' section and eight for cargo section.
Unless the Government recruited the required number of staff at the commissionerate, it would not be possible to examine cargo at the airport. The commissionerate had brought this to the notice of the authorities concerned, he said.