Amid a massive surge in COVID-19 infections across the country, the Government on Sunday said it has directed all major ports to waive all charges for ships carrying oxygen and related equipment.
In a statement, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways said it has directed all major ports to accord the highest priority in the berthing sequence to the vessels carrying consignments of Medical Grade Oxygen, Oxygen Tanks, Oxygen Bottles, Portable Oxygen Generators and Oxygen Concentrators.
"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 Limited, to waive-off all charges levied by Major Port Trusts (including vessel-related charges, storage charges etc.)," the statement said.
Port chairpersons have been asked to personally supervise logistic 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, it further said.
In case, the vessel is carrying other cargo/containers in addition to the above said oxygen-related cargo, waiver of charges on a pro-rata basis, considering the overall cargo or containers handled at the port, should be provided for oxygen-related cargo to such vessels, the statement said.
It also noted that the Ports Ministry will monitor the details of such vessels, cargo and time taken in the port from the time vessel entered in the port limits to exit of cargo from port gate.
"Government of India is deeply engaged in handling the crisis related to the second wave of COVID-19 in the country and taking all steps to counter the situation through appropriate and innovative measures", the government said in a statement.
This announcement comes a day after the government decided to waive off customs duty on COVID-19 vaccine, oxygen and related equipment exempted till July end.
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs move comes in line with decisions taken in a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
It was decided in the meeting to grant full exemption from basic customs duty and health cess on import of 16 items related to oxygen and oxygen-related equipment for three months with immediate effect. It was also decided that basic customs duty on import of COVID-19 vaccines will also exempted with immediate effect for three months.
The Prime Minister was briefed that basic customs duty was exempted on Remdesivir and its API recently and it was suggested that import of equipments related to providing oxygen to patients needs to be expedited.
The items granted full exemption from basic customs duty are - medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrator along with flow meter, regulator, connectors and tubing, Vacuum Pressure Swing Absorption (VPSA) and Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) oxygen plants, Cryogenic Oxygen Air Separation Units (ASUs) producing liquid/ gaseous oxygen, oxygen canister, oxygen filling systems, oxygen storage tanks, oxygen cylinders including cryogenic cylinders and tanks, oxygen generators, ISO containers for shipping oxygen, cryogenic road transport tanks for oxygen, parts to be used for the manufacture of equipment for production, transportation, distribution or storage of oxygen, any other device from which oxygen can be generated, ventilators (capable of functioning as high-flow devices) with nasal canula, compressors including all accessories and tubing, humidifiers and viral filters, high flow nasal canula device with all attachments, helmets for use with non-invasive ventilation, non-invasive ventilation oronasal masks for ICU ventilators and non-invasive ventilation nasal masks for ICU ventilators.
(With inputs from ANI)