March 2017 News

Full-body Scanners At 2 Cross-LoC Points In Jammu And Kashmir

2 March 2017
Times of India
Bharti Jain

New Delhi: Full-body scanners, capable of scanning the entire truck and its load, will soon be installed at two cross-LoC points along the Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote trading routes, with an aim to arresting smuggling of weapons, narcotics and other illegal items from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). According to sources in the home ministry, the negotiations for purchase of two full-body scanners are on the verge of finalisation and it may take six more months to install them at Salamabad and Chakan-da-Bagh trading posts in Uri and Poonch respectively. An Indian company will be supplying the full-body scanners, likely to cost Rs 60 crore each, possibly in tieup with a foreign partner. The process for procuring the full body scanners started in 2015 but has been delayed due to multiple objections raised at the tender stage. 'Such objections, alleging corruption in clearances relating to the tendering process, often hold up procurement deals. For instance, in the case of boats being procured by MHA on behalf of the states for coastal security, the deal had to be finally cancelled. However, the full-body scanner procurement, though delayed, may see light of the day,' said a senior home ministry official. The indication of clearance for installation of full-body scanners at Salamabad and Chakan da Bagh comes a day after J&K police recovered arms from a cross-LoC truck and arrested its driver. Reacting to the development, former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah had tweeted on Wednesday: '...full truck scanners flagged for acquisition...since Chidambaram was HM'. 'Every single meeting with them, this issue was flagged and followed up. Thus far there has been little or no progress with those scanners,' he said in another tweet. The scanners are likely to cost Rs 60 crore each. The installation of fully body scanners on the two cross-LoC routes was necessitated in view of smuggling of arms and narcotics in the garb of trade. All trucks coming from PoK would have to pass through the scanners. Even the cross-LoC bus coming from PoK would have to go through the scanners. The cross-LoC trade is presently confined to four days a week while cross-LoC travel takes place once a week on both Poonch-Rawalakote and Uri-Muzaffarabad routes.