New Delhi: The five-fold trade between India and the US is expected to be raised upto $500 billion in the next 10 years. However to avoid the arms and radio active materials going undetected, America wants the full-proof inspection of the cargo which originates from Indian ports.
India installed three gamma ray mobile scanners at Chennai port, Nava Sheva in Mumbai and Tuticorin in order to meet the US' condition and the domestic concerns.
"One fixed scanner is under construction at Chennai port and will soon be operational besides the mobile scanner," said P Jaideep, additional commissioner, Customs, in Chennai.
The ports are being equipped with container scanners to evade money laundering and use of fake invoices in exports. It became more crucial after the directorate of revenue intelligence booked several cases where live shells were detected in cargo arriving from Iran and Iraq.
Customs had installed the mobile GammaRay scanning (GaRDS) system, a US technology for mobile container scanners that can scan a container every five minutes. These can detect arms, radio active materials and banned chemicals and also capable to raise alerts. Physical examination of a container takes over five hours per container.
Earlier, only random checks were carried out on containers at ports including Kandla in Gujarat, Vizag, Tuticorin and Chennai that used to be practically unchecked. Now, with mobile scanners, Customs are putting all doubtful cargo under necessary examination.
The process of acquiring container scanners started in 2004, but the Union cabinet sanctioned Rs 175 crore for acquiring the technology in 2006. However, till the 26/11 terror attack there was little movement in equipping all ports with these scanners.
US insisted 100% mandatory checking of all the containers and the government floated global tenders for three Gamma-Ray scanners in January 2009.
The Chennai mobile scanner was inaugurated September 2014 while the first two were installed in Mumbai and Tuticorin ports.
Four fixed scanners are also under different phases of installation. With Barack Obama pitching to up the India-US trade to $500 billion from $100 billion, the government will need to install more scanners at all its ports, including the dry ports where Customs authorities have in the past detected illegal exports.