No safety compromise in cargo handling at ports during COVID-19 lockdown: Official

A Shipping Ministry official said that the government has not issued shore passes to more than 50,000 crew and passengers
For representational purpose. (File photo| Reuters)
For representational purpose. (File photo| Reuters)

NEW DELHI: Strictly adhering to precautions to prevent any further spread of COVID-19 while handling cargo at India's ports, the government has not issued shore passes to more than 50,000 crew and passengers, an official said on Wednesday.

Maintaining smooth operations across its ports and initiating several steps, including waiving rentals, ports have done thermal scanning of over 50,000 crew and passengers post January 27. "A total of 50,902 passengers have been scanned between January 27 and April 12 using thermal scanners at Indian ports, including 43,925 people scanned at major ports," a Shipping Ministry official told PTI.

The official said these crew and passengers were on board 1,558 ships including 1,990 vessels which arrived at ports post January 27.

The government has asked each major port to ensure that no penalties, demurrage, charges, fee, rentals are levied on any port user (traders, shipping lines, concessionaires, licensees etc) for any delay in berthing or loading/unloading operations or evacuation of cargo caused by the reasons attributable to lockdown measures from March 22.

The government has said each major port shall exempt or remit demurrage, ground rent over and above the free period, penal anchorage/berth hire charges and any other performance-related penalties that may be levied on port-related activities including minimum performance guarantee, wherever applicable.

Besides for existing and operational PPP projects, major ports can permit waiver of all penal consequences on a case-to-case basis along with deferment of certain performance obligations. The official said that hospitals across the major port trusts have been supplied with personal protective equipment (PPEs) and the arrangement of sufficient staff round the clock has been made.

Ports and PSUs under the Ministry of Shipping have contributed more than Rs 52 crore from the CSR funds towards PM CARES Fund. Besides, employees of ports, PSUs and other offices of the Ministry of Shipping have contributed over Rs 7 crore from their salaries towards PM CARES Fund.

The number of vessels handled by ports during 2019-20 was around 20,837 against 20,853 vessels in 2018-19.

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