Alarm in India following Beirut explosion; ports asked to verify presence of explosive material in warehouses New Delhi: Two days after a massive explosion, triggered likely by fireworks and ammonium nitrate, rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut, an alarm was sounded by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) over explosive material that could possibly be lying at Indian ports.
In an advisory issued on Thursday, the CBIC said customs have been asked to verify the presence of hazardous and explosive material lying at ports across the country. The department noted that it has asked for the survey following the Beirut explosion incident in which at least 137 persons were killed and thousands injured.
“Customs and field formations have been directed to immediately verify and confirm within 48 hours that any hazardous and explosive material lying in warehouses and ports across the country meets all safety and fire standards and presents no danger to life and property. This precautionary step has been taken in view of the recent incident of an explosion in a foreign country caused by such material,” the CBIC stated.
The advisory came hours after reports that 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate could be stored at the Chennai Port. However, the reports were refuted by an official who said that the consignment was removed from the port long back.
"There is no storage of 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the Chennai Port. It was shifted out long back," a port official told news agency IANS.
Reports had earlier stated that a consignment of 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, stored in 37 containers, was imported by Amman Chemicals in 2018 as fertiliser from South Korea.
Since the importer did not have the necessary license, the Customs Department had seized the consignment and kept it at Sattva Container Freight Station, Manali. An employee at Sattva Container Freight Station stated that necessary safety precautions were taken to store the chemical compound.
Further, a part of the consignment was later auctioned off by the Customs department.
Officials separately stated: "E-auction of 690 tonnes of ammonium nitrate under process by the Chennai Customs.The chemical compound is stored at a freight station in Manali, Chennai, and was part of a 697-tonne consignment seized in November 2015. The remaining was washed away during December 2015 floods."
PMK founder S Ramadoss today raised the alarm in a tweet and said in view of the Beirut explosions, ammonium nitrate should be removed safely and used for fertiliser production.
It may be noted that more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was stored at Beirut port in Lebanon, explosion in which on Tuesday led to the deaths of 137 persons.
Shipping Ministry reduces port tariff rates by 70 pc to promote cruise tourism: Mandaviya
New Delhi [India], Aug 14 (ANI): The Ministry of Shipping has rationalized tariff rates for the cruise vessels plying on the rivers and oceanic waters of India. The net effect of the rate relaxation would be an immediate reduction in port charges ranging from 60 per cent to 70 per cent, which will give substantial relief to the cruise industry in India and promotion of cruise tourism in a country that is affected due to COVID -19 pandemic.
"We have reduced berthing charges (port charges) of cruise ships on the Indian coast by 70 per cent to promote cruise tourism. No other country in the world has slashed rates by such a margin. The tourism sector has suffered amid COVID-19. Cruise travelling is ban but when it will open then cruise from different parts of the world will come to India," Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) told ANI.
"Due to policy support by the Modi government since 2014, the number of calls made by cruise ships in India has increased from 128 in 2015-16 to 593 in 2019-20," he added.
Mandaviya said that after reducing the port tariff rate, it will provide the opportunity to earn a huge amount of foreign exchange and generate sizeable direct and indirect onshore employment in the cruise tourism sector of India. (ANI)
Provision of chartered flights for exchange of duty of more than one lakh drivers posted in Ports of Ministry of Shipping
The Ministry of Shipping has arranged for chartered flights for the exchange of duty of more than one lakh crew members deployed in ships in the country's ports. According to the ministry, maritime transport is also one of the areas most affected by the Corona epidemic. All kinds of essential services have been continued even in difficult times of epidemic in the country's ports.
The Minister of Shipping, Mansukh Mandaviya, has directed the Director General of Shipping to develop a concrete system to deal with the grievances of the crew members. He said that it should be ensured that in the current difficult times the crew members can contact the ministry directly with any problems they may have.
Director General of Shipping Amit Kumar has said that a number of initiatives have been taken to continue maritime transport in the era of Corona epidemic. This includes extending the period of necessary certificates during sea voyage and e-pass facilities.
Major Port cargo volumes inch towards pre-Covid level amid ongoing pandemic
With cargo volumes inching towards pre-Covid levels, the country’s major ports are witnessing green shoots amid the ongoing pandemic. In September, 12 major ports across the country handled 53.5 million tonne (mt) cargo, up 4 per cent from August and closer to 57.2 mt handled in February. “Industries are coming back to normalcy.
Within the bulk category, fertilisers and limestone have picked up in September, helping cargo volumes at ports,” said B Vimal, senior deputy traffic manager, Chennai Port.