Indian exporters warn of halting trade with Pak via rail
Chandigarh: Indian exporters Tuesday threatened to stop trade with Pakistan via rail route in the wake of the discovery of over 100 kg of heroin along with ammunition from a goods train coming from Pakistan yesterday.
"If the concerned authorities, including Railway, did not take adequate measures to contain unlawful activity like recovery of heroin and ammunition and if such things (recoveries of contraband) continues, then we will have to stop trade (with Pakistan) through rail," Amritsar Chamber of Commerce Vice President Rajdeep Uppal told PTI Tuesday.
Uppal said the exporters are worried over the huge recovery of narcotics like heroin coming from Pakistan along with imported consignment in goods train as it could lead to their unnecessary harassment.
Indian custom authorities had yesterday recovered 105 kg of heroin valued at Rs 525 crore in international market and 500 cartridges from a Pakistani goods train at the railway station here.
"There is a lot of uncertainty as to what will be recovered in consignment (through rail in future)," said another exporter Rakesh Verma.
A haul of narcotics was hidden with a consignment of cement loaded in the rail bogies, said Vijay Bahadur Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Customs Amritsar.
The latest recovery of contraband found with cement in goods train from Pakistan was the fourth such incident during last four months.
Cement is a major trading commodity which is imported by Indian importers from Pakistan through rail network at Amritsar as Pakistani cement is cheaper by up to Rs 20 per bag as compared to the Indian cement.
Over 60 percent of total imported commodities coming in a goods train from Pakistan constitute cement while rest is rock salt.
Total import from Pakistan through rail is estimated to be about Rs 400 crore, while export to Pakistan could be Rs 500 crore per annum. India exports crude drugs, spices, chemicals and plastic granules through rail to Pakistan.
"It is unfortunate that authorities like Railways are not taking any action despite intervention by trade unions...Till date nothing has happened," one of the exporters said.
Exporters had even apprised Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on October 7 when he visited Integrated Check Post at Attari.
They had suggested installation of scanners at rail cargo terminal and notification of customs notified area to keep a check on smuggling of narcotics.
"There is no security at all at Rail cargo centre... anybody can come there...It is free for all," said Uppal.
Significantly, the issue of smuggling of narcotics came up during a meeting between Indian customs and Pakistan customs officials on October 4 and 5.