LAHORE - Cement export to India through Railways wagons has completely been stopped as in the absence of adequate security measures for eliminating narcotic smuggling, the cement manufacturers preferred to discontinue sending dispatch through rail routes, sources said.

Currently, cement is being exported to India through trucks only which remain under the exporters control before crossing the border, however the trucks are accepted by Indian authorities in small numbers thus resulting in declining export dispatches.

Amid the situation when cement exports are already on decline, the decision by manufacturer of not using the rail link will further decrease the number dispatches to India. It is worth adding that cement dispatches for the month of Oct 2012 declined by 5.87 per cent mainly due to a drastic decline of 20.59 per cent in the export of cement to Afghanistan, India and other destinations. The exports to India declined by 37.51 percent to 0.158 million tons.

After the opening of land route and rail link, it was expected that industry would be able to export more than 5 million tons cement to India, but that never happened. Still, more NTBs from India along with allegations of smuggling of narcotics, is making this option highly unfavorable to the Pakistan’s cement industry.’

Seizure of narcotics a few times during past four months from the trains carrying Pakistani exports through Wagah to India was a blow to bilateral trade between India and Pakistan that could derail the trade liberalisation process.

The Indian Customs seized 105 kg of heroin from Pakistani goods train Wagon No.66938 at Amritsar Railway Station in the first week of October while unloading Pakistani cement. The notable thing in this regard was that the seal of the wagon was properly seal when it reached on the Indian side of the border at Atari. However its seal was broken when it reached Amritsar. This implies that the seal was broken on the Indian side. The Indian officials acknowledged this fact during the investigation.

The cement manufacturers in Pakistan approached the Customs and the Railways to take stringent measures to curb this menace. Additional Collector Customs Lahore Region assured that the manufacturers that Customs will take measures to eliminate chances of narcotics sneaked in to cement consignments. He however said 105 kg narcotic seized by Indian Customs at Amritsar cannot be blamed on Pakistan as the wagon from which the drug was seized sealed when it crossed the border. The seal was broken inside the Indian border where the responsibility lies with Indian.

The spokesman for cement manufacturers APCMA said that since these episodes adversely affected cement exports the Pakistan Customs and the Pakistan Railways authorities had agreed to increase vigilance and take more stringent measures to eliminate the chances of drugs going into India through Wagah.