A CAG report has expressed concern over uncleared cargo containing live bombs and war material scrap lying at various inland container depots (ICDs) of the customs department for several years.
In a report tabled in Parliament Tuesday, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has asked the revenue department to develop a reporting mechanism to independently monitor uncleared cargo/container.
As per the test checked conducted by CAG (as on March 31, 2017) on 85 ICDs and container freight stations (CFSs) that there were 469 containers of hazardous waste lying undisposed from periods ranging from 1 to 17 years.
These included live bombs, war material scrap in three ICDs in Rajasthan, 92 containers of used tyres, metal scrap and hazardous chemicals in one CFS under Mumbai Customs Zone II, 15 containers of hazardous cargo at ICD Tughlakabad in Delhi-NCR region and 50 containers of mixed waste at ICD Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, said the CAG report tabled in Parliament.
"At ICD CONCOR, Kanakpura, falling under Jodhpur Commissionerate, 27 live bombs and 19.4 MT of war material scrap were lying undisposed since 2008 which is a serious cause for concern.
"Similarly, at ICD, Udaipur and ICD, Bhagat Ki Kothi, falling under Jodhpur Commissionerate, 195 kgs of empty cartridge shells and 102.8 MT of war material scrap were lying undisposed since 2004," the report said.
The apex auditor has suggested that in order to address the risk of importers taking undue advantage of provisions norms, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (now Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs) may review the provision so that abandoning of cargo is allowed only as the rarest of rare case.
As of March 2017, there were 129 ICDs. Of these, Maharashtra had the highest number of ICDs (13), followed by Uttar Pradesh (11), Tamil Nadu (10), Gujarat (9) and Haryana (8). ICD Tughlakabad in Delhi-NCR region is the largest ICD in the country, spread over 44 hectare of land. There were no ICDs in Jammu and Kashmir and only one ICD in Assam among all north-eastern states.
The report also noted that as on March 31, 2017, 7,877 containers occupying total storage area of 1.17 lakh square metres was pending for disposal.
Out of these, 3,397 containers (57 per cent) had been pending for disposal for over 3 years.
Analysis of uncleared cargo revealed that pendency was mainly due to delays in issue of no objection certificates by the customs department, delay in clearance certificates from participating agencies such as plant quarantine and pollution control agencies, delay in implementing orders for destruction of cargo and delay in re-export of containers, it added.
CAG has also recommended that a website on ICDs and CFSs may be developed by the Department of Commerce where updated database and real-time information on operations of ICDs and CFSs could be accessed by all stakeholders.
It further said to check large-scale dumping of municipal and hazardous waste into India through cross border trade, the government should make a provision in law to initiate stringent penal action including criminal action against defaulting importers and shipping lines.