Sim­pli­fy­ing ICD/CFS/AFS on­line ap­pli­ca­tion

The set­ting up of ICDs/CFSs/AFSs has now been up­graded to a web-based sys­tem, an ini­tia­tive un­der ‘Min­i­mum Gov­ern­ment, Max­i­mum Gov­er­nance’.

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The gov­ern­ment has sim­pli­fied the process for com­pa­nies to set up an In­land Con­tainer De­pot (ICD)/ Con­tainer Freight Sta­tion (CFS)/Air Freight Sta­tion (AFS). The im­proved pro­ce­dure is aimed at en­sur­ing a speed­ier and more trans­par­ent ap­proval process. To­wards this ob­jec­tive, com­pa­nies can now make their ap­pli­ca­tion on­line and view its progress/ up­date on-line, with­out a visit to any gov­ern­ment of­fice. Also, this is a pi­o­neer at­tempt as a ma­jor In­ter-Min­is­te­rial IT ap­pli­ca­tion rather than a mere In­tra-Min­is­te­rial IT ini­tia­tive.

The ap­proval process for set­ting up an ICD/CFS/AFS in­volves many de­part­ments. This is fa­cil­i­tated through an In­ter-Min­is­te­rial Com­mit­tee (IMC), which con­sists of of­fi­cials from min­istries of com­merce, fi­nance (Dept. of Rev­enue), rail­ways and ship­ping. If re­quired, the view of the re­spec­tive state gov­ern­ment is also sought. This IMC is housed in the De­part­ment of Com­merce, which is man­dated to act as a sin­gle win­dow for the ap­proval process.

Cur­rent Process

In the cur­rent process, the ap­pli­cant sub­mits as many as 10 phys­i­cal copies of the ap­pli­ca­tion form with the req­ui­site doc­u­ments to the in­fra­struc­ture divi­sion at De­part­ment of Com­merce (DoC), New Delhi, be­sides one copy with the Juris­dic­tional Com­mis­sioner of Cus­toms.

The cur­rent process of ex­am­i­na­tion of the ap­pli­ca­tion is very cum­ber­some and the ap­pli­ca­tion form is very bulky with the an­cil­lary ma­te­rial run­ning into al­most 500-1000 pages. This is ini­tially scru­ti­nised by the De­part­ment of Com­merce for ad­her­ence to the land ac­qui­si­tion guide­lines. Copies of the ap­pli­ca­tion are then sent to Min­istry of Rail­ways, Ship­ping, Civil Avi­a­tion and De­part­ment of Rev­enue (CBEC) for scru­tiny and com­ments. De­part­ment of Rev­enue (CBEC) then sends the copies of this ap­pli­ca­tion to the Juris­dic­tional Com­mis­sion­ers in the field and there­after, on re­ceiv­ing a re­port from them, sends their clear­ances to De­part­ment of Com­merce. Upon re­ceiv­ing the com­ments from the Min­istry of Rail­ways, Ship­ping, Civil Avi­a­tion and De­part­ment of Rev­enue (CBEC), the De­part­ment of Com­merce con­venes the meet­ing of In­ter-Min­is­te­rial Com­mit­tee where the ap­pli­ca­tion is re­viewed on the ba­sis of the com­ments re­ceived, and a de­ci­sion is taken on is­sue of the Let­ter of In­tent (LoI) to the ap­pli­cant.

Upon re­ceiv­ing the ap­proval, the ap­pli­cant is re­quired to set up the in­fra­struc­ture within one year from the date of ap­proval. The IMC may grant an ex­ten­sion of six months af­ter re­view­ing the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for de­lays given by the party.

Af­ter the ap­pli­cant has put up the re­quired in­fra­struc­ture, con­formed with the se­cu­rity standards of the Juris­dic­tional Com­mis­sioner of Cus­toms and pro­vided a bond backed by bank guar­an­tee to the Cus­toms, a fi­nal clear­ance and Cus­toms no­ti­fi­ca­tion is is­sued by the Cus­toms de­part­ment which then de­clares the fa­cil­ity op­er­a­tional.

Im­proved Process

There have been fre­quent com­plaints from the stake­hold­ers (ap­pli­cants) that the man­ual process is very cum­ber­some and not only does it re­sult in loss of doc­u­ments in the tran­sit but also there is lack of trans­parency re­gard­ing the sta­tus of var­i­ous clear­ances by the var­i­ous agen­cies/ de­part­ments. There have been per­sis­tent de­mands from the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers to stream­line the pro­cesses and there­fore, De­part­ment of Com­merce em­barked upon a project to have the com­plete process made on­line for the con­ve­nience of the ap­pli­cants.

Now, with the cul­mi­na­tion of the project, the back­end process will also be on­line and the ap­pli­cant can see the var­i­ous stages of pro­cess­ing of his ap­pli­ca­tion in the var­i­ous min­istries/ de­part­ments. Apart from sav­ing reams of pa­per, the process also brings about greater trans­parency by dis­clos­ing the sta­tus of the ap­pli­ca­tion. This in­cludes send­ing out SMS and e-mail alerts to keep all the stake­hold­ers abreast with the progress.

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