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Government orders end of Indian port penalties

The Indian government has ordered major ports on the country to stop levying various charges on businesses whose containers are stranded by the national lockdown.

Indian recyclers had appealed for relief from detention and demurrage charges, calling them a ‘massive burden’ on an industry crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions imposed on 25 March.

The fees are normally a routine part of the business between shipping lines and importers: demurrage covers containers remaining on the dockside after a specified number of day and detention is paid for the period between the container being picked up and returned empty.

According to the Bureau of International Recycling, the Ministry of Shipping sent an official letter to ‘major ports’ on 21 April ordering the remission of storage charges, lease rentals and penalties and offering additional land for storage at no charge.

However, BIR says some of the instructions do not appear to apply to the Mumbai Port Trust and the Mormugao Port Trust.

‘BIR welcomes the Ministry’s initiative as a positive sign that the recycling industry’s voice is being taken into account,’ it says. ‘Supported by its Indian member associations MRAI and IICA, as well as IRSI, EuRIC and the Bureau of Middle East Recycling, BIR had officially addressed several letters to the Government of India, the shipping lines and the port authorities, requesting that costs that severely harm our members be waived.’

BIR says it is closely monitoring the consequences of the lockdown measures in India and in particular the situation regarding demurrage and detention fees.

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