Kolkata: Kolkata Customs is likely to allocate a separate zone within the Syama Prasad Mookerjee port area to handle cargo headed for Nepal. Once operational, this zone will be the first dedicated freight/cargo handling area for Nepal inside any port area in India. It will significantly boost cargo movement and reduce handling time for consignments headed to Nepal through the port in Kolkata.
According to sources, the Nepal Transit and Warehousing Company Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nepal government, had sought land to set up a warehouse. While that land was given to them on lease, the NTWCL needed Customs’ clearance to start operation. The NTWCL had applied for the clearance before the lockdown.
On Monday Nepal’s consul general Eshor Raj Poudel met chief commissioner of Kolkata Customs Zone Pramod Kumar Agarwal and discussed the issue along with other concerns related to cargo movement through Bengal.
Sources said that consignments headed for Nepal, brought via waterways from other countries, land either in Kolkata or Visakhapatnam port. Once the dedicated zone is operational, it will reduce turnaround time of the consignments significantly and boost incoming cargo to the Kolkata port. Customs is going through the proposal and is likely to give a nod soon.
“NTWCL has leased property and wants to create a warehouse. It is still in the process,” Poudel said.
“Today’s meeting was more of a courtesy visit. We have received excellent cooperation from the Indian authorities including the Customs, port authority, Concor and the Indian Railways. The movement of cargo through India to Nepal has been very smooth during the pandemic,” said Poudel.
According to estimates with the Nepal government, nearly 100 containers from abroad reached the port in Kolkata every day. They were cleared and then sent to the neighbouring country. During the pandemic, the consulate general of Nepal’s office in Kolkata received applications from importers in Nepal for at least 40 containers per day. There are also importers who take the containers directly from the port and carry the consignment.
“During the pandemic import by Nepal has gone down. Let us hope for better days and I am hopeful that it will increase further,” Poudel said. “We are thankful to the Indian authorities and we have received high level commitment so far. That is the perfect indicator for the mutual cooperation between the two countries,” he added.