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Shipping Ministry asks authorities to exempt penalties for smooth operations at ports

In light of the Ministry of Home Affairs orders issued last week, each major port shall ensure that no penalties, demurrage, charges, fee, rentals are imposed on any port user for delay in berthing, loading or unloading operations, or evacuation or arrival of cargo caused by the reason attributable to lockdown measures from 22nd March to 14th April.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 31, 2020, 10.44 PM IST
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New Delhi: The shipping ministry on Tuesday directed all the major ports to consider exemption of penalties that may be levied on port related activities arising on account of lock down measures.

“Given the nationwide lock down, there is an inevitable impact in the form of delays in evacuation of cargo and inability to fulfill obligations by various parties, stakeholders due to the affect on downstream services,” the ministry said.

In light of the Ministry of Home Affairs orders issued last week, each major port shall ensure that no penalties, demurrage, charges, fee, rentals are imposed on any port user for delay in berthing, loading or unloading operations, or evacuation or arrival of cargo caused by the reason attributable to lockdown measures from 22nd March to 14th April, the ministry said.

In order to maintain proper supply chain at Indian seaports, shipping companies or Carriers are advised not to charge, levy or recover such charges between 22nd March, 2020 to 14th April, 2020, the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) said in a subsequent order.

“The above exemption or remission shall be over and above free time arrangement that is currently agreed and availed as part of any negotiated contractual terms,” DGS said, advising shipping companies and their agents not to impose any new or additional charges during this period.

“This decision is a one time measure to factor-in the present situation arising out of the Covid-l9 pandemic,” the order said.

The shipping ministry in its order also said that the period for completion of any project under PPP or any other mode can be extended by the ports, while allowing waiver of penal charges for existing and operational PPP projects on a case to case basis.

The ministry on March 24 intimated major ports that Covid-19 can be considered as a natural calamity that would entitle ports to invoke the force majeure provisions in various contracts.
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