Kottayam to be elevated as Customs port

Twelve years after it began operations as a dry port, the Kottayam port — the first multi-modal Inland Container Depot (ICD ) in the country using inland water navigation — is all set to be elevated as a Customs port.

Officials said here on Tuesday that an application by the port authority seeking licence to operate as a Customs port under Section 7 of the Customs Act had been under active consideration of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) and a favourable decision on the same was expected in the next couple of weeks.

The granting of the licence will enable the port to switch its cargo traffic operations entirely to the inland waterways.

Launched in 2007, the Kottayam port currently operates as a dry port with road and rail as its two designated modes of transit.

Confirming the move, Abraham Varghese, Managing Director, Kottayam port, said the elevation would bring in operational viability by cutting down on the cost and time involved in cargo movement.

“A switch to the water route, for instance, will bring down the round trip cost of a 40-foot container from Kochi to ₹10,000 from the present charge of ₹15,000,” he said.

Further, the storage free period for cargo in the transshipment terminal can be extended up to one month as against the five days available for the road cargo.

When contacted, Sumit Kumar, Commissioner of Customs, Cochin, said the designation as Customs port would help improve the acceptance of the Kottayam port among the major shipping lines.

Currently, the containers transshipped to Kottayam are now being cleared in Kochi and the technicalities involved in the process have forced several clients out of the Kottayam port. “We have endorsed a proposal by the Kottayam ICD for licence to operate as Customs port and a Joint Commissioner of Customs has been tasked to monitor its processing. The application is currently with the Joint Secretary concerned under the Ministry of Finance and the approval is expected within the next couple of weeks,” he said.

The Commissioner, meanwhile, also pointed to the need to address the infrastructural constraints experienced by the Kottayam port in terms of barges, containers and warehouses, before launching water traffic.

As per estimates, the Kottayam port handled around 1737 TEU ( 20-foot Equivalent Unit) containers and collected a customs duty of ₹12.93 crore during the financial year 2018- 19. The foreign exchange earned was ₹21 crore.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 10:04:58 AM |

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