The dysfunctional truck scanner and inadequate x-ray machines used to locate hidden weapons, ammunition, explosives, detonators, counterfeit currency and narcotics, at the Attari Integrated Control Post (ICP) continue to be a big concern for Indian traders.
Recently, a delegation of traders led by ICP Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Anil Mehra, met with the Minister of State at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ajay Mishra, and briefed him on the difficulties they faced during of their transactions due to malfunctioning truck scanner and insufficient X-ray machines.
The truck scanner project cost ₹23 crore was announced in March 2017 by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiran Rijiju. Of the five truck scanners imported from the United States, the first was installed at Attari’s ICP in 2019. The Center had sanctioned five complete truck scanners for Attari – Wagha in Punjab, Poonch – Chakkadabad and Uri – Salamabad in Jammu and Kashmir on the Indo-Pakistan border, Petrapole in Kolkata on the Indo-Bangladeshi border and Raxaul in Bihar on the Indo-Nepal border. In 2019, customs conducted a test of the Attari scanner, but it did not give the expected result. The scanner has remained dysfunctional ever since.
“Various goods including dried fruits and medicines are imported daily from Afghanistan by our importers from various parts of India. However, due to the malfunction of the truck’s scanner, our goods are physically checked. Every time an illegal item is detected during the physical check, it brings a bad name to the importer in question,” Mehra said.
He said: “Similarly, due to the physical examination of goods, a lot of time is wasted opening and checking each package. This leads to the shortage of goods, and the goods also come to market very late, which leads to huge losses for traders and businessmen. With the help of the scanner, the goods can be examined at high speed, which will lead to less waste and faster clearance of shipments. This will increase trading volumes and there will be no commodity price volatility. He added, “It is relevant to mention here that there are 7 large loading/unloading areas for import shipments and only 3 X-ray machines have already been installed there, which is insufficient for shipments. Due to the lack of X-ray machines, imported shipments must be opened, resulting in a waste of time. In this regard, the Customs officers as well as the authorities of the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) of the ICP have already written to the Union Home Minister. Besides the installation of a high-tech truck scanner, at least three other X-ray machines should be made available at the ICP.
LPAI’s ICP manager, Satish Dhyani, said the truck’s scanner was working, but not active as per customs requirements. “Work is underway to complete customs requirements in the truck scanner. Likewise, we have also advocated with the government to increase X-ray machines at the PKI for the speedy clearance of goods,” he added.
The ICP facilitates India’s trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as the movement of passengers from India to Pakistan and vice versa. Currently, only imports from Afghanistan are allowed through PKI. Trade between India and Pakistan has come to a standstill since New Delhi repealed Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Prior to this, India raised tariffs from 5% to 200% on all items imported from Pakistan after the Pulwama attack.