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Govt puts off implementation of plant quarantine order to June 1

M.R. Subramani

Chennai , April 5

BOWING to demand from importers, especially of pulses, the Government has decided to put off the implementation of the Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import into India) Order 2004 until June 1.

The order was to have come into effect from the beginning of this month. The decision to postpone bringing into effect the quarantine order was gazetted last week.

Initially, the order was to have come into force from January 1 but it was put off because the entire trade was caught unawares of the Government's move notified last last year.

No official reasons have, however, been ascribed to the Government's current move.

The Government had been under pressure to grant more time to importers so that they could prepare themselves for the new import regime, seen as non-tariff barrier in some quarters.

The pulses trade was, especially, upset over the new order due to two reasons. One, the order stipulated that the consignment be fumigated with methyl bromide. This chemical had been phased out by many countries a few years ago. The second aspect that upset the trade was the stipulation that the pulses be fumigated at 28 degrees Celsius. The stipulation, in particular, led to cancellation of shipments as exporting nations such as Canada contended that no weevil could be present in consignments from its shores where the temperature was below zero degrees.

The Government came up with new rules for agricultural imports mainly to ensure that alien inspects, pests and weevil do not enter the country along with imported goods.

The Government has also stipulated norms for conditions, especially for quarantine and fumigation, of the farm goods that enter the country.

They will also prevent imports of genetically-modified products, since all farm imports require certification of their safety from the country of origin. These phyto-sanitary or plant hygiene protection measures are permissible under the World Trade Organisation rules.

Another stipulation that has worried the trade here is the condition that the Indian import permit number be mentioned in the phyto-sanitary certificate issued by the exporting country.

The pulses trade can be the one which could now heave a sigh of relief over the Government's decision to put off the implementation of the order. Inflow of pulses is over 20 lakh tonnes a year.

Pulses are a major item of import for the country. Pulses imports have been taking place for over 20 years now in order to bridge the gap between domestic output and demand.

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Govt puts off implementation of plant quarantine order to June 1

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