India Confiscates China-Bound Containers With ‘Radioactive' Material, Claims They Came From Pakistan
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) controls 13 port terminals, which represents 24 percent of India's port capacity. The company last month said that it wouldn't handle containers from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, after Indian authorities intercepted three tonnes of Afghan opium, which came from Bandar Abbas, at one of its ports.
India's largest port operating company Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) has said that federal authorities confiscated containers with hazardous substances inside them at the Mundra seaport on Thursday, 18 November.
“While the cargo was listed as non-hazardous, the seized containers had Hazard Class 7 markings (which indicate radioactive substances)”, the company claimed in its statement on Friday.
"Although the containers were not destined for Mundra Port or any other port in India but were en route from Karachi in Pakistan to Shanghai in China, the government authorities had them offloaded at Mundra Port for further inspection", the statement from the company read.
The operation that led to the seizure of the containers was carried out by India’s anti-smuggling agency, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), and the Customs Department.
The Customs Department is overseen by the Central Board and Indirect Taxes and Customs, which operates under the federal Finance Ministry.
The incident comes amid an ongoing row over APSEZ’s decision on 11 October to ban containerised cargo from three countries — Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan —at all the 13 port terminals managed by the company.
The company said at the time that the ban would come into effect from 15 November.
The port operator took the decision after Indian authorities intercepted nearly three tonnes of opium in September at the Mundra seaport, located in Gujarat state on the country’s western seaboard.
According to an official release, the opium originated in Afghanistan and came to India from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
In a virtual conference between Indian and Iranian officials on 13 October, Tehran described the decision by Adani Ports as being “imbalanced” and “unprofessional”.
“Iran - as the country which has suffered from many trade restrictions and unjust sanctions for more than 40 years and as the champion whose sincere efforts and sacrifices in fighting all the said devils has been praised by the United Nations - is once again being targeted unfairly”, a statement from the Iranian Embassy after the meeting stated.
Indian English daily The Economic Times reported on 17 November that Indian Customs sent a letter to APSEZ’s management this month, asking how it could ban cargo from the three countries without consulting the relevant authorities.
The report cited Indian officials pointing out that Directorate General of Foreign Trade, a department under the federal Commerce Ministry, was the relevant authority to take decisions to ban cargos with foreign countries.