SHILLONG, Jan 18 - Indian Customs law disallowed 33 Bhutanese coal-laden trucks at Dawki integrated check post (ICP) in Meghalaya to transit to Bangladesh following a Supreme Court order banning the transportation of extracted coal in Meghalaya, an official said on Friday.
�A total of 33 trucks transporting coal originating from Bhutan have been stopped at Dawki ICP (in Meghalaya�s West Jaintia Hills district) from January 15 from transiting to Bangladesh citing the Supreme Court order ban on transportation of coal,� Meghalaya International Exporters� Chamber of Commerce Secretary, Dolly Khonglah, said.
Khonglah said that she tried to convince the Customs officials at Dawki ICP that the Supreme Court�s order does not apply to a third country exports with transit through India but they refused to acknowledge it.
�For the last two months, they have been exporting coal to Bangladesh without any hiccups. They have no right to stop them at best they can check the documents of each truck.
�All the coal-laden trucks are sealed and covered by tarpaulin and adheres strictly to the specified weight as per the rules of India,� she said.
The Bhutanese Consulate in Guwahati is in touch with the Customs officials at Dawki ICP and Commissioner and Secretary for Mining and Geology, Tining Dkhar on the matter.
�We are hopeful that the matter will be resolved soon so that the Bhutanese coal trucks can transit to Bangladesh,� Consul General Phub Tsering said.
A Supreme Court bench of Justices AK Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer on Tuesday banned the transportation of coal in Meghalaya till the next hearing fixed on February 19 for its failure to curb illegal mining in the State.
Bhutan is exporting coal to Bangladesh via India as per the South Asian Preferential Trade Arrangement.
India had notified Dawki-Tamabil and Dalu-Nakugaon land customs stations as dedicated port for Bangladesh-Bhutan for trans-shipment export-import trade. A Customs official who wished not to be named said that they have sought for clarity from Meghalaya Chief Secretary and Union Finance Ministry on the Supreme Court order.
Advocate General of Meghalaya, Amit Kumar said that transit coal originating outside Meghalaya is not hit by the order of the apex court.
Dhaka had earlier offered Thimpu duty-free access of some products and to use Chittagong and Mongla Ports while Thimpu extended cooperation to meet the power deficit of Bangladesh. � IANS