Faulty e-seals for lock­ing con­tain­ers put ex­porters in a tizzy

Cus­toms Dept asks ship­pers to re­frain from us­ing seals sup­plied by Italy’s Leghorn Group

The Hindu Business Line - - NEWS - P MANOJ

Self-seal­ing of cargo con­tain­ers by ex­porters with tam­per­proof elec­tronic seal to check pil­fer­age and other fraud­u­lent prac­tices has run into trou­ble as the RFID seals sup­plied by a Euro­pean man­u­fac­turer has failed to meet the se­cu­rity re­quire­ments set by the gov­ern­ment.

From Oc­to­ber last year, the gov­ern­ment had made it manda­tory for ex­porters to use elec­tronic seals to lock a con­tainer for ship­ment, re­plac­ing the ear­lier sys­tem of lock­ing it with a bot­tle seal. Such es­eals are im­ported.

Ac­cord­ing to the Rev­enue Depart­ment, cer­tain Euro­pean man­u­fac­tur­ers of elec­tronic seal are sup­ply­ing the seals which can be scanned from a dis­tance with­out be­ing in a locked con­di­tion. The Cus­toms Depart­ment ac­knowl­edged that the RFID seals sup­plied by Italy’s Leghorn Group does not com­ply­ing with the se­cu­rity re­quire­ments. The Ital­ian firm — the big­gest sup­plier of e-seals to In­dia — has sup­plied to three ven­dors — IB Track So­lu­tions Pvt Ltd, Great Eastern ID Tech Pvt Ltd and Per­fect RFID Tech­nolo­gies Ltd — who in turn sold them to ex­porters.

“Ex­porters are ad­vised to re­frain from us­ing the elec­tronic seals pro­cured from the above three e-seal ven­dors un­til fur­ther or­ders,” a pub­lic no­tice is­sued by one of the Cus­toms Com­mis­sion­er­ate said, a copy of which Busi­ness Line has re­viewed.

Ac­cord­ing to spec­i­fi­ca­tions set by the gov­ern­ment, the elec­tronic seal should be a RFID tam­per proof one-time bolt seal, bear­ing a unique se­rial num­ber, which has to be pro­cured by the ex­porters at their own cost for use in self-seal­ing.

The Cus­toms Depart­ment ad­vi­sory to ex­porters, cus­tom bro­kers and trade to stop us­ing e-seals sup­plied by Leghorn Group through its In­dian ven­dors, comes af­ter Jus­tice Jainarayan Pa­tel, a for­mer Chief Jus­tice of Cal­cutta High Court, called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fi­asco by the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion and the Direc­torate of Rev­enue In­tel­li­gence. “As this par­tic­u­lar seal (sup­plied by Leghorn Group) can be scanned at a dis­tance of few me­tres with­out be­ing in locked con­di­tion, it must have and will in­vite in fu­ture, many fraud­u­lent prac­tices which are not good for the coun­try,” Jus­tice Pa­tel wrote in a Oc­to­ber 9 let­ter to Rev­enue Sec­re­tary, Has­mukh Ad­hia.

“I re­quest you to look into this mat­ter and in­ves­ti­gate the facts by DRI about the con­cerns raised by me and brought to your kind at­ten­tion. An in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion agency such as CBI be also di­rected to ex­am­ine the is­sue as it may lead to se­ri­ous na­tional se­cu­rity prob­lems as th­ese con­tain­ers may be used for im­port­ing/ex­port­ing con­tra­bands and ex­plo­sives,” Jus­tice Pa­tel wrote in the let­ter, a copy of which was marked to Fi­nance Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley.

The in­ci­dent comes at a time when the gov­ern­ment is im­ple­ment­ing many trade­friendly mea­sures to im­prove In­dia’s rank­ing in the ‘ease of do­ing’ busi­ness. Ex­porters say that the pur­pose of e-seal is to cre­ate a safe pas­sage for cargo with­out the risk of tam­per­ing.

Some com­pa­nies, ac­cord­ing to a trade source, have got into this busi­ness by im­port­ing/sup­ply­ing cheaper e-seals, which, with­out get­ting locked en­able read­ing.

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