Lockdown delays truck scanner project at Attari
AMRITSAR: The coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown has hit the operation of the full-body truck scanner installed at the integrated checkpost (ICP) Attari, which facilitates India’s trade with Afghanistan and Pakistan through the AttariWagah border.
Officials of the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI), which manages the ICP’s affairs, said they are waiting certification from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board as a team of experts could not visit the ICP for holding the scanner’s trial due to lockdown.
The truck scanner project costing Rs 23 crore was announced in March 2017 by then Union minister of state for home affairs Kiran Rijiju. Of the five truck scanners imported from the US, the first one has been installed at the ICP, Attari, to scan concealed narcotics and weapons being smuggled from Pakistan.
The Centre had sanctioned five FBTS for Attari–Wagha in Punjab, Poonch–Chakkandabad and Uri–Salamabad in Jammu & Kashmir on the India-Pakistan border, Petrapole in Kolkata at India–Bangladesh border and Raxaul in Bihar on India–Nepal border.
Since the foundation stone of the ICP was laid in 2010, there has been a demand for a scanner as manual checking of vehicles by customs officials with the help of sniffer dogs is not 100% errorfree, and has sometimes led to clearing of the contraband.
“The construction and installation works of the scanner have been completed. We are now waiting the AERB team’s visit. The team couldn’t reach here due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The scanner emits radiation. Once we get certification from the AERB, the scanner will be made operational. We have already put forward our request to the AERB to conduct the scanner’s trial,” said the ICP’s in-charge Sukhdev Singh.
“In November last year, an AERB team had visited and during the trial of the scanner, a technical glitch was detected. The glitch was repaired by an US-based engineer. Now, the scanner is all set to be operational.”
With the imposition of the nationwide lockdown, the movement of trade with Afghanistan thorough the ICP was also suspended for at least two months. The cross-border trade resumed from May 28, but only a few trucks have been importing goods from Afghanistan.
But trade with Pakistan is at a standstill since the New Delhi’s action of revoking the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. The project, which commenced in March 2018, has so far missed several deadlines. In July last year, the special cell of Delhi Police seized 50kg heroin evaluated at ₹200 crore from a cold storage located in Haryana’s Sonepat.
Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) officials say they are waiting certification from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board as a team of experts could not visit the ICP for conducting the scanner’s trial due to lockdown