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Quarantine staff at airport off, tonnes of perishables left to rot

Image result for trichy airport cargo
THE absence of a plant quarantine officer on second Saturdays and Sundays in a month is putting exporters to hard-ship. On Sunday, a total of seven tonnes, mostly vegetables meant for exports to Gulf countries, remained grounded after the certifying authorities went on leave. According to the exporters, the grounded items are mainly the perish-able ones that go to all the countries. Almost all perishable commodities sent from the airport were to South East Asian countries such as Dubai, Sharjah, Doha, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Colombo and Maldives. Though there is no dedicated freight service from the Tiruchy Airport, almost all the five international air car rims including Air India Express have increased their cargo tonnage limit here.
Air India Express that flies to Sharjah and Dubai where exporters are currently sending their exports to are the worst affected. Speaking to Express, S A Sayeed who was scheduled to send seven tonnes of cargo to the Gulf region complained that "All countries need plant quarantine (PA) certificates for perishable commodity exports. Tiruchy Airport has a PQ station office in the airport with a designated officer but only operates on normal working hours with operations closed on public holidays and Sundays.
Number through years Year Cargo Exports (tonnes)

 2014-15 4912

2015-16 6606

2016-17 5500 (till August)

Since  flights to Gulf sectors are at midnight, we need the PQ office to be opened till 10 pm to inspect the cargo and allow for export with certification," he added. As of now, the PQ station is closed before 05.30 pm with export of cargo coming to standstill as the flowers and other perishables commodities are not able to be exported, said another exporter. The exporters have complained to the higher officials saying that just posting one staff in PQ Tiruchy station till 10 pm on all days would have ex-ports of 32 tonnes and more of cargo every month. A senior official from the airport authority said, "As long as the airport is not declared 24x7 for the exports, customs and PQ can operate as per their office timings. It is only to the Gulf region that exports are hit as they re-quire certification which is not the case with other countries".
Source: epaper.new indianexpress.com//c/22021635 

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