The seizure of a consignment of red sanders from a container at the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) here on Saturday is learnt to have prompted Customs authorities here to seek an X-ray scanner.
Sources said X-ray scanner was now available only at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port at Navi Mumbai. Four more ports — Kandla, Mumbai, Chennai and Tuticorin — were expected to get the equipment soon. Kochi Customs is likely to push hard for Kochi to get X-ray scanners too.
Saturday’s incident was the second in recent times in which logs of sanders, export of which is banned from India, were being smuggled out of the country.
Kochi is likely to get five radiological scanners within six months. The Cochin Port Trust and Dubai Ports World, which operates the ICTT, have placed orders for two and three radiological scanners apiece, sources said. Cochin Port Trust has de-notified 12 acres within the Special Economic Zone in which the ICTT is located for establishing scanning facilities. However, sources said that even with the scanners in place, only random scanning could be carried out as screening the entire lot of containers would be time-consuming and unviable.
Officials investigating Saturday’s incident also hold the view that it will not be possible to spot illegal consignments without specific information.
Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) sources ruled out media reports that Naxalite groups were beneficiaries of the transactions.
Though the DRI seized 13.5 tonnes of red sanders last year, DRI officials could track the consignment only up to Dubai. This time, however, the next leg of smuggling network was also revealed. The direct involvement of a Hong Kong-based non-resident Indian was tracked for the first time.