Govt to de-congest airports by reducing free storage time for carg

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New Delhi, Sept 24 (UNI) The Government has sent shock waves among importers and exporters by proposing the reduction of free storage time for cargo from October 1, 2007 in its efforts to de-congest cargo complexes at airports.

Intending to improve the operations of its cargo complexes at par with the world standards, the Government has planned to reduce free storage time from five days to three days for importers and from two days to one day for exporters from next week.

Currently, a free storage for five working days from the date of landing is allowed for import cargo or unaccompanied baggage, during which only terminal storage processing (TSP) charges are levied. Thereafter, demurrage charges are leviable.

The Airport Authority of India (AAI) is also planning to review and hike the TSP charges.

Reacting sharply to the proposal, the Garments Exporters Association (GEA) said that the reduction in ''Free Time'' is neither practical nor desirable, as the present situation at Cargo Complexes and current policies, procedure and infrastructure are not conducive to such a reduction.

In a letter to the Chairman of Airports Authority of India, GEA's newly elected President G S Madan urged that ''under the circumstances, it is requested that the proposed implementation of the order of reducing free time could kindly be kept in abeyance, till all the stakeholders are taken into confidence and provision of proper infrastructure to achieve the desired objective.'' Mr Madan submitted that while the Government's concern in reducing congestion and upgrading the airports to international standards is laudable. On the other hand, its is highly premature and appears to have been taken in total isolation of the ground realities in terms of essential provision of infrastructure, cargo handling facilities and highly time-consuming and cumbersome procedures, which cannot be complied with within the proposed reduced timings.

''It is extremely unfortunate that a decision on such important matters are being taken without active involvement of all the stakeholders including and particularly the garment exporters who are already seriously affected by the poor quality of infrastructure, cumbersome and time-consuming procedures and extremely higher transaction costs, accentuated lately by continuous appreciation of Indian Rupee,'' GEA President stated.


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