The Cochin Customs Preventive Service (DR) Association has alleged that the Special Economic Zone administration has “not allowed” the Customs department “to function properly” inside the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), which has now turned into a “huge security threat to the nation” and through which even nuclear warheads may be smuggled into the country.
The press release comes in the wake of a recent incident in which a consignment of red sanders was seized from the parking area of the Vallarpadam ICTT. DRI officials were prevented from entering the container terminal, based in the SEZ, by the Central Industrial Security Force.
A press release issued by the association general secretary Gopakumar P. said here on Friday that there was propaganda that under the SEZ Act law enforcement agencies cannot be allowed into the SEZ area.
This is a misrepresentation of the SEZ Act as all Central and State government agencies are permitted to discharge their duties inside an SEZ, the press release said.
It also said that the Development Commissioner of the SEZ had powers only to issue passes to private persons like entrepreneurs, casual visitors and employees of units inside the zone.
The association also demanded a Union government inquiry to bring out any vested interests behind the attempts to restrict the operations of law enforcement agencies inside the ICTT under the cover of the SEZ Act.
The Union government must intervene in the matter without delay and take remedial measures to ensure that no anti-national activities took place in the ICTT, it said.
Meanwhile, trade union leaders at the Kochi port and labour representatives on the Board of Trustees C. D. Nandakumar and Mohammed Haneef visited the Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan here on Friday to submit a memorandum on the difficulties faced by the port.
A press release issued here said that the labour trustees requested the Minister to take a relook at the licence agreement on the International Container Transshipment Terminal with DP World and to inquire into the circumstances under which such a licence agreement was signed.
The trade union leaders also requested the Minister to consider providing a grant of Rs. 400 crore to the Cochin Port as viability gap funding to procure reach stackers, a dredger and cranes.