NEW DELHI: In what could pose a security risk, there are no x-ray machines installed at cargo terminals at the Delhi airport to scan goods being imported into India.
The customs authorities have recently written to the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which operates the Indira Gandhi International Airport, and two other companies, Celebi and Delhi Cargo Service Center which manage operations at the two cargo terminals, pointing out deficiencies in the security put in place by them, official sources said.
The letter cites absence of x-ray machines and narcotics kits to scan the goods being imported into the country via the two cargo terminals, the sources said. There are no x-ray machines at the import sheds of the two cargo terminals since 2014, whereas the equipment is in place to scan the goods being exported, they said.
Thousands of tonnes of goods are imported via these cargo terminals every year from several countries including Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Singapore and Thailand. In 2014-15, about 4,78,020 bills of entry were filed for importing various goods and the customs authorities had realised import duty of Rs 13,799 crore.
When contacted, DIAL's spokesperson said x-ray machines were installed and maintained by the customs department. "X-ray machines in the import section of cargo area were installed and maintained by the customs department for prevention of smuggling. We also support them through services of x-ray machines already installed in both the cargo terminals of the customs area. Customs also have a fully trained dog squad as an anti-smuggling measure," a company spokesperson said.
DIAL would like to clarify that there is no question of aviation safety and security being compromised. We would like to reiterate that we strictly follow norms laid by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, it said.
"X-ray screening of cargo entering into aircraft is a security measure to ensure the safety of aircraft and passengers. It is noteworthy that the import cargo, which is already prescreened from other international airports, does not pose any security issue at the receiving airport," the spokesperson said.
However, Customs officials insisted no x-ray machine is installed in the import section of cargo terminals. Celebi said it has one x-ray machine in the import shed, which is in use since it took over the cargo terminal from DIAL.
"This machine is available for use by all or any agency working with us. However, customs has requested for an dedicated x-ray machine for their use exclusively which is under procurement process and will be made available very soon since such items are not readily available off-the–shelf," Celebi said.
On an average, 100 flights comes to Delhi airport bringing in several tonnes of cargo. In the absence of x-ray machines and narcotics testing kit, there may be chances of smuggling of gold and drugs, and what not, through them, the sources said.
Three kg gold was seized by the customs last year. The precious metal was hidden in a machine which was imported. Cargo operations were temporarily suspended on May 29, this year following a radiation scare in one of the imported consignments. Howver, authorities had later claimed there was no radioactive leakage.