Shillong, Jan 27 (PTI) Concerned over the lack ofinfrastructure in the Land Customs Stations (LCS) in theNortheast, a top Customs official today said the drawback hadstood as an impediment to the growth of international trade inthe region.
"Many of our LCS do not even have adequate electricity,drinking water and proper housing. Many are not connected byall-weather roads," Chief Commissioner Customs and CentralExcise D D Ingty said at a function here to mark theInternational Customs Day.
Import of food items require to be tested before beingimported or exported as per the Food Adulteration Act. Theonly approved laboratory for such testing is at Guwahati,though food items are being imported through the border atMoreh, Agartala and Sutarkandi, Ingty rued.
"The goods cannot be cleared for consumption tillreceipt of the test report and it often takes 30-40 days forthe test report to come. Again there are no adequatewarehousing facilities at most locations," Ingty said, addingthat to achieve Customs excellence, growth of infrastructurewas imperative.
Of the total 32 LCS in the region, 23 are presentlyfunctional and processing of documents in most of them aredone manually.
"The equipment for electronic processing have beeninstalled in the major stations like Dawki, Agartala,Sutarkandi and Moreh. The changeover to electronic processingis also being done in other stations gradually, he informed.
He said presently discrepancies are detected in theprocedures or documents, but once the LCSs are equipped withelectronic processing, "there will be no getting away."
Highlighting the importance of properly implementing thelegal provisions for national security, the Customs officialalso rued that facilities available were not being used to theoptimum.
"The LGBI airport in Guwahati is an international airportmanning, thereby importers and exports of this region canclear their cargo at Guwahati instead of doing so in Kolkataor other airports. Similarly, the inland container depot atAmingaon (Guwahati) is a dry port from which containerizedimports and exports can be cleared.
"But other than tea exports, this ICD has seen verylittle trade. Similarly, goods can be transported to Kolkatavia Bangladesh from Pandu (Guwahati) port using the riverineroute, but so far not much trade has taken place," he said,adding all these locations have adequate Customs personnel.