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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

ICP sans full body truck scanners

Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times  Amritsar , July 24, 2014
First Published: 15:26 IST(24/7/2014) | Last Updated: 15:30 IST(24/7/2014)

Even as narcotics and arms and ammunition keep getting pushed into India through the Indo-Pakistan border, the ambitious Integrated Check Post (ICP) constructed by India to improve trade with Pakistan continues to miss the full body truck scanners.

India does all its trade with Pakistan through the ICP. Indian trucks go into Pakistani territory to drop various commodities whereas the Pakistani trucks come here to drop goods.

Even after more than two years of inception of the ICP, the Indian authorities have failed to install the full body truck scanners as the checking is done manually.

Though there are a few X-ray machines, the full body truck scanners that can scan the entire truck coming from and going into Pakistan are missing.

PROMISES NOT KEPT

In April 2012, when the then union minister P Chidambaram inaugurated the ICP built on 121 acres, there was a lot of stress on the security and he had especially mentioned that the scanners would be installed soon.

Besides, former home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had also visited the ICP and had promised that the facility would be in place soon.

But since then, things have remained only on paper. With only the manual checking in place, the ICP has already seen a few incidents wherein smuggling attempts were made by Pakistan through the trucks.

If the truck scanners are in place, it can be a major deterrent as it would totally scan the truck and make the detection rate high. Now, there are even talks that the ICP will be further expanded, and these hi-tech scanners will become even more important. Though sources claim that Pakistan in its ICP had already installed two full body truck scanners, India, which has a better infrastructure in the ICP, is yet to install even a single one as the trucks are checked manually.

Border Security Force DIG MF Farooqui told HT, “The full body truck scanners are required and need to be positioned at the ICP at the earliest. By doing most of the checking manually, we are leaving things to chance. It is discussed in every meeting and I can say that the government is considering it on priority.”

A customs official said, “We have a pilot scanner through which we can check the goods in big numbers.”

EFFORTS BY RTI ACTVIST

RTI activist PC Sharma, who has repeatedly written to the finance ministry and also the PMO, said, “I have written 14 letters till now and even asked why the promised full body truck scanners were not installed. We are dealing with a nation which has many a time pushed narcotics through the border. This is a sensitive border and the authorities should ensure that the scanners are installed at the earliest.”

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