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Major Indian ports waive off medical oxygen, related equipment import charges

Given the acute shortage of medical oxygen in the country, the government has directed all major ports to waive off all charges and give priority to oxygen and related consignments for berthing.

These charges such as vessel related charges and storage charges, that have been waived for three months and may be extended further, are for medical grade oxygen, oxygen tanks, oxygen bottles, portable oxygen generators, oxygen concentrators, steel pipes for manufacturing oxygen cylinders and associated equipment.

This comes in the backdrop of an acute oxygen availability crisis in the country amid a surge in covid-19 infections, with hospital beds and medicines running out. The situation is alarming with the reported deaths of critically ill covid-19 patients due to low oxygen in the national capital.

“In view of the excessive requirement of oxygen and related equipment in the country, the Government of India has directed all Major Ports, including the Kamarajar Port Ltd, to waive-off all charges levied by Major Port Trusts (including vessel related charges, storage charges etc.) and accord highest priority in the berthing sequence to the vessels,” the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways said in a statement on Sunday.

Some of India’ major ports include: Mumbai, Chennai, Deendayal, Paradip and Kolkata. Nearly 90% of India’s exports and imports by volume and 70% by value are routed over the oceans, including products for chemicals for use in pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.

“Port Chairpersons have been asked to personally supervise logistics operations to ensure unhindered movement of such consignments for berthing of such vessel on top priority in the port, unloading of oxygen related cargo, coordination with Customs and other authorities for speedy clearance/documentation and expeditious evacuation of oxygen-related cargo from port,” the statement said.

“In case the vessel is carrying other cargo/containers in addition to above said oxygen-related cargo, waiver of charges on pro-rata basis, considering the overall cargo or containers handled at port, should be provided for oxygen-related cargo to such vessels,” the statement added.

The government on Saturday also waived off basic customs duty and health cess on imported oxygen and related equipment for three months, effective immediately. To step up production and availability and meet the rising demand of oxygen, the government has decided to grant full exemption from basic customs duty and health cess on import of oxygen and related equipment for three months.

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