Indian biggest private gateway operator, Adani Port and SEZ (APSEZ) has now scrapped a previous decision not to handle containerised cargo from three Muslim nations Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, which had sparked severe discontent.
The APSEZ authority on 8 December issued a trade advisory by reversing the decision amid repeated calls from the government bodies and business groups.
The port authority received numerous representations from terminal operators, customs broker associations, vessel operators, and importers to review the circular it issued on 11 October barring handling boxes from the three countries.
“Upon careful scrutiny, discussion and assurances from concerned stakeholders regarding adherence to due compliances and with a view to ensure seamless trade, the advisory is hereby withdrawn with immediate effect,” it noted.
APSEZ had declared a ban on handling containers from these nations effective from 15 November after law enforcing agencies had seized nearly three tonnes of heroin, shipped from Afghanistan in two containers, at its Mundra port.
The announcement had sparked immediate reaction from the business community and questions have arisen whether a private port operator has the authority to ban cargo of any country.
Under pressure from the shippers, the Indian department of Customs in early November asked the APSEZ authority to explain in what capacity it enforced a ban on handling box cargoes from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The customs officials also reminded the Adani Port authority that authorisation from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade is needed for any port to take such a decision.
The Iranian embassy in New Delhi also had expressed dissatisfaction over the banning of its consignments and termed the mover as an “unprofessional and imbalanced move”.
Adani’s 13 ports and terminals, located at Gujrat, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha, represent 24% of the Indian port capacity.