Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 0 comments

Integrated Check Posts To Smoothen Cross Border Movement of Goods & Passengers



FEATURE

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Ravinder Singh*
  
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), in the year 2006, approved ‘in principle’ the setting up of Integrated Check Posts at 13 locations and Land Ports Authority of India as a statutory body. Integrated Check Posts are being constructed as a Plan scheme with an initial outlay of Rs. 635 crore during the 11th Five Year Plan. In the initial phase, 13 Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) were envisaged at major designated entry/exit points along India’s international land border. Of these, 7 ICPs are to be constructed in Phase I and 6 ICPs in Phase II. ICP Attari is the first to be completed. The other six ICPs planned in the first phase are, Raxaul and Jogbani in  Bihar, Agartala (Tripura), Petrapole (West Bengal), Dawki (Meghalya) and Moreh (Manipur).
Need for ICPs
Existing designated entry and exit points on the international borders are characterized by unplanned growth leading to delays and traffic jams. The need to develop infrastructure was recognized by the Government and after due consultations and deliberations, the concept of Integrated Check Post was devised. 
ICP is conceived as a sanitized zone having adequate passenger and freight processing facilities. The term integration refers to integration of sovereign functions and not of inter-modal integration of several transport modes such as; rail, road waterways etc. 
The ICP concept being new in the country, the planning was carried out through regular consultations with sovereign authorities and stake holders. The plans thus prepared were deliberated at length by Empowered Steering Committee before approving them.

Facilitating Movement of Vehicles Across Border

The Western and Eastern border of India has the peculiarity of restriction on vehicles of originating country to be allowed beyond a designated point in the destination country. The planning of ICP at these locations provides solution to this limitation. In these situations, while most of our neighboring countries are relying on solution linked to time separation, we have adopted the space separation approach. The solution involves provision of separate delivery and collection zone within ICP. This is achieved by treating passenger terminal and warehouse as interface where, unloading is done along one face and loading on the other face.   
Efficiency Inducing
The ICPs along Nepal Border are planned along the concept of primary and secondary checks to induce efficiency in regulatory process. This concept is similar to RED channel and GREEN channel witnessed at the airports. Government has initially identified 13 locations along the land borders ofIndia seven out of the thirteen are placed under priority.
First at Attari

ICP Attari is the first one to be completed and was inaugurated by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on April 13, 2012 in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Commerce Minister of Pakistan Makdoom Amin Fahim and Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab Province Md. Shahbaz Sharif. It has been constructed at a cost of about Rs.150 crores and is spread over 118 acres with dedicated passenger terminal building. Like other border crossing points, the existing facilities at Attari were also constrained. The Integrated Check Post not only provides planned and integrated facilities but also offer a new international gate removing restriction of timing.
The earlier  arrangement did pose lot of strain on passengers crossing on foot, as they had to walk substantial distance to come to the existing custom building. The ICP Attari offers dedicated vehicles between Gate and passenger terminal. This would not only offer comfort to the passengers but also ensure orderly movement within ICP, removing avoidable burden on the security.  The issue of movement of these vehicles from Wagah terminal to Attari terminal is already taken up with Pakistanand a favorable resolution is anticipated.  
Passenger Terminal Building
The passenger terminal building is the focal point of passenger processing zone. It is a two storied building with total 9600 sq. m. area. The passenger terminal is planned on the lines of airport terminals. The Building has two wings, one for departing passenger and other for arriving passengers. Each wing has eight Immigration counters, two Baggage scanners and six customs counters. Numbers of these processing units are derived methodically by considering the average process time. The health facilities for detection isolation and reporting are provided in conformity to International obligations, besides providing basic medical assistance to passengers. The terminal offers linear flow with strategically placed signage for passenger guidance. Passenger facilities such as Baggage trolleys, Duty free shops, dispensers for foods & beverages, toilets, etc. are integral part of terminal facilities. Paraplegic facilities such as ramps, wheelchairs, handicapped toilets are included in the passenger terminal.   It also has Tourist Information Centre, Vending Machines, Prayer Room and Child Care Room.
Jattha sheds have been provided along each face of the building to provide shelter and regulated flow of passengers into the terminal, to deal with sudden influx of passenger flow due to movement of pilgrimage groups.
Cargo Terminal
Cargo terminal building is a one and half storied structure, having total area of 4800 sqm. Unlike Passenger Terminal, Cargo terminal is an office complex having dedicated spaces for Sovereign agencies, Bank, Cargo handling agents etc. The cargo zone has total 55,000 sqm of parking area and warehouses having total area of 10,800 sqm. Majority of these warehouses are meant for receipt, inspection, trans-shipment  and delivery of imported goods. Cold storage of 1500 MT capacity spread over 5 chambers, for perishable imported goods is part of cargo processing facility.  
The flexible planning of ICP afforded development of segregated area to handle cargo in loose form. An area of 12000 sqm is developed with separate access system for Indian and Pakistani trucks, without disturbing the original traffic flow. An area of 99000 sqm is available for future augmentation of capacities.
Quarantine Facilities
The quarantine facilities including fumigation shed are part of ICP. Basic amenities for the truckers are available on arrival and departure side both.
Proper Surveillance
For the surveillance of the area, CCTV cameras and PA system are provided at strategic locations. 230 CCTV cameras have been placed at different locations for security. Control points on the road network are regulated through automatic boom barriers. Fire fighting and fire alarm system is in place. The complex is supported by 1800 KVA Electric sub-station with 100% power backup. A helipad is developed within the complex for quick and direct access to the complex.

Green Belt

Large green areas are being developed along both the faces of terminal building to offer a visual treat to the passengers. The building bears resemblance to the structures in Lutyen’s Delhi. The concept of providing such facade was selected to represent strength and receptiveness of the country. The road network in front of building is meticulously planned for each type of movement with no conflicts.

Construction of ICPs

The construction of ICPs began in Feb’ 2010 and the period of construction envisaged was 14 months. However, as ICP Attari was the first project on a newly devised concept. The project started evolving with construction, additional works were identified, as necessary and were and ordered. Besides this, the ICP had bilateral issues such as, the joint agreement on location of new international gate and construction close to zero line. These bilateral issues took longer than anticipated. However, the construction was done expeditiously, accommodating the extra work and other impediments.  
Frequent reviews, inspections were conducted by Senior Administrators and Engineers during the construction to ensure that the construction is progressing on agreed lines. Bilateral platform was formulated and frequent meetings were held to resolve the issues, acquire understanding, and update construction plans.  
ICP Attari is a modern facility and is being appreciated by all concerned. With the completion of ICP, the larger picture that shall emerge now would depend on efficiency of operations and the capacity constraint on other side of the border, if any.  
Land Ports Authority of India
The Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) is to provide better administration and cohesive management of entry points/land ports and entrusted with the task of development and management of Integrated Check Posts on the land borders and would be vested with the powers on the lines of similar bodies like Airports Authority of India. The Land Ports Authority of India has been established from 1st March, 2012 as a statutory body which will function as a body corporate under the administrative control of the Department of Border Management, Ministry of Home Affairs. 

Other Agencies Involved

As regards running the ICP efficiently sovereign authorities are already moving in, Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) is given the responsibility to function as custodian in accordance with customs regulations. Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been given the responsibility of catering and passenger facilitation.     
The capacity harmonization issues are already flagged in recent meetings with Pakistani delegation. The valuable experience gained during the planning and construction of ICP Attari is being used in other ICP projects.(PIB Feature.)

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