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Scanners at Mumbai's T2 courier terminal cannot detect gold

A special audit, which was conducted by Mumbai Customs, revealed that the machines display grainy images; the report also accuses the terminal’s managing authority of flouting several norms

A special audit conducted by Mumbai Customs has revealed that the scanning machines present in the courier terminal near T2 display grainy images of the cargo being scanned through them. Officers say that the audit has pointed out several other loopholes in the courier system.

The circled areas in these scans taken in the courier terminal point out objects that could not be identified
The circled areas in these scans taken in the courier terminal point out objects that could not be identified

The audit, which was conducted in the third week of June, pointed out that the Express Industry Council of India (EICI), which manages the terminal, has flouted several rules as custodian. The report has revealed that the images produced by the scanning machines at the courier terminal are so grainy that they cannot distinguish between gold and other goods.

“If a package has gold in it, then a dark, blackish, shaded patch should be seen clearly. If an officer spots such a patch, he can be certain that gold is present in the package. But using the old machines in the courier terminal, one finds it difficult to identify the colour. Officers from the terminal have themselves admitted that they can’t see the objects that are being scanned,” said a senior Customs official.

Apart from the scanning machines, the EICI, which works in coordination with Customs, has given the latter only one-third of the space that it should get, considering the load of consignments that it scans. This paucity of space leads to messy and unsorted work.

Officials also say that because of the absence of a computerising system in the terminal, each and every task has to be done manually. “This also means that if there is a problem with one consignment, the following consignments are also delayed,” explained another Customs officer.

Confirming that the audit was conducted in June, Chief Commissioner of Zone III BS Vasudev said, “The audit was conducted some time back, with a view to bring about upgradation in the services and systems.” He added, “The scanning machines are one of the aspects we will be considering and this has been included in the report.” Officials also revealed that the report was sent to EICI, after senior officials from Air Intelligence Unit approved it.

They also added that the EICI had flaunted rules listed in the Handling of Cargo in Customs Areas Regulations, 2009. Another senior officer said, “It was suggested that the EICI’s licence should be revoked, as a clause in the Cargo Act mentions revoking the licence of any custodian that flaunts rules.” Other sources said that the audit report was discussed with the EICI, who have started working on the loopholes.

EICI clarifies
Denying that a special audit had been conducted, Vijay Kumar, chief operating officer at EICI, explained, “We are not aware of any special audit that was conducted. Customs keep conducting such activities and we cooperate with them completely. EICI does custodianship in Bangalore and Delhi as well, and we can say that periodic questioning is a normal thing.

No such special audit has been conducted. We maintain the highest level of ethics and transparency in our dealings. We work within the courier regulations, and if there are any deviations, they are taken care of. We are also developing Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Express Cheque Clearing System (ECCS), along with Customs.”

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