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Mundra port bans container cargo from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan
The ban followed seizure of a large consignment of narcotics from Afghanistan at the Mundra port last month. The Adani port said it will no longer accept or handle containers from these countries with effect from November 15. The move will impact imports and exports as the Mundra port is among one of the largest ports in the country.

NEW DELHI, Oct 12: The Adani Group-run Mundra port in Gujarat has banned import of container cargo from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan following the seizure of a large consignment of narcotics from Afghanistan at the port in Gujarat last month.

The port said it will no longer accept or handle containers from these countries with effect from November 15. The move is likely to impact large volume of imports and exports as the Mundra port is among one of the largest ports in India. While barring the cargo movement, the port also issued a new set of trade guidelines. However, there is no Government involvement in the Adani decision.

Mundra port is also the largest private port of India located on the north shores of the Gulf of Kutch near Mundra in Kutch district of Gujarat.

As a conequence, the container trade at Mundra may shift to other ports, raising the costs of both imports as well as exports. The cost may go up four times. India is Afghanistan's largest market in South Asia and exports to Afghanistan accounted for $263 million in the April-July period. The goods included sugar, pharmaceuticals and apparel.

The value of imports from these countries in April-July FY22 were Afghanistan $107.33 million, Iran $153.63 million and Pakistan $0.45 million, according to Government figures quoted by ET. India's imports included dry fruits, chemicals, minerals and metals.

Heroin consignment seizure, arrests

The heroin consignment, seized on September 13, had come from Afghanistan via Iran. Afghanistan is a major producer of opium. The consignments were declared as unprocessed talc. The upper layer of the containers had talc stones which concealed the narcotics.

Several arrests have been made since then. "The law empowers the Government of India’s competent authorities such as the Customs and the DRI to open, examine and seize unlawful cargo. No port operator across the country can examine a container. Their role is limited to running the port," a spokesperson for the port had said in a statement.

“We sincerely hope that this statement will put to rest the motivated, malicious and false propaganda being run on social media against the Adani Group. APSEZ is a port operator providing services to shipping lines. We have no policing authority over the containers or the millions of tonnes of cargo that pass through the terminals in Mundra or any of our ports," the statement added.

Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), an enforcement agency under the Union Finance Ministry, had seized a total of 2,988.21 kg Afghan heroin from two containers at the Mundra port on September 13. The port is run by Adani Ports and SEZ (APSEZ), part of a Gautam Adani-run conglomerate.

The consignment was estimated to be worth Rs 21,000 crore. This is one of the biggest seizures of drugs in the world so far.

Searches were conducted by the DRI in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Gandhidham and Mandvi in Gujarat, following which two persons were arrested. Involvement of Afghan nationals is also suspected.

The importer firm has been identified as Aashi Trading Company, run by M Sudhakar and his wife G Durga Purna Vaishali. The couple has been arrested by the DRI from Chennai.

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