Small paper mills on Monday said that over 35,000 containers with imported waste paper are held up at various inland container depots (ICDs) and container freight stations (CFSs) despite the government's directive to waive port logistics charges.

According to the Indian Agro and Recycled Paper Mills Association (IARPMA), customs officials are not implementing the government directive on waiver of logistics charges during the lockdown period, which is between March 22 and May 3, and asking for penalties cumulating around Rs 1,000 crore.

According to the association, the raw material is urgently required by paper mills for manufacture of packaging to be used by food, pharmaceuticals and other essential products.

"The non-availability of raw material i.e. waste paper is adding to the miseries of small-scale paper manufacturers who are required to comply with all the statutory liabilities, payment of salaries besides bearing other heavy expenses like power bills, sanitization of plant and workers and putting up facilities for workers to stay in the mill premises," said IARPMA President Pramod Aggarwal adding that "mills should not be unnecessarily hassled."

Contending that small paper mills are incurring heavy losses as their raw material is stuck at ports and are unable to commence operations, the association has requested commerce and finance ministries as well as the Directorate General of Shipping, under the shipping ministry, to look into the issue.

"The ICDs and CFSs are not honoring the directives of the government and are demanding unwarranted penalties which amount to nearly Rs 1,000 crore and are beyond the paying capacity of small paper mills," IARPMA said in a statement.

According to IARPMA, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and the Directorate General of Shipping directed ports and all principal commissioners and chief commissioners of customs for waiver of demurrage, detentions and ground rent for export or imports of goods and consignments.

However, according to an article published April 28 on Recycling Today's website, "The Mumbai-based Materials Recycling Association of India (MRAI) has advised its members that the Container Freight Station Association of India (CFSAI) has 'issued a letter denying any waiver on demurrage charges' to shippers with containers stranded at India's locked down ports.

"In an April 27 advisory to its members, the MRAI says the CFSAI has pointed to Handling of Cargo in Custom Area Regulation 2009 (HCCAR) guidelines for its continued insistence on demurrage charges," the article said.

SOURCE: PTI (Press Trust of India) and Recycling Today

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