India set to begin X-rays on all airborne exports

India set to begin X-rays on all airborne exports

NEW DELHI - After more than a year's delay, India's civil aviation department will enforce compulsory X-ray scanning of export cargo at the country's international airports from Jan. 1.

Security at Indian airports is handled by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, which has told handling agencies that all exports must be scanned from the New Year. Because of inadequate equipment, there was previously only random scanning of cargo. Most cargo was subject to a compulsory 24-hour cooling period at airport warehouses aimed at thwarting placement of bombs in packages.

The original deadline for mandatory X-ray scanning of exports was June 1, 2002. It was then extended to Oct. 1, 2002, after airlines and agents complained of practical difficulties. The measure was introduced to beef up aviation security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

India's airports handled 648,790 metric tons of international cargo in the year ended March 31, 2003, with most of this moving through five airports. Air cargo movement through Indian airports is likely to more than double in the next 10 years, according to industry studies.

Air cargo volumes in India have grown by an average 10 percent a year over the last decade. Air cargo comprises about 40 percent of total exports by value, and includes goods such as jewelry, precious stones, handicraft, carpets, leather goods, chemical and pharmaceuticals.