The government may talk of ease of doing business, open customs counters in
all airports 24X 7 and introduce single window clearance at all sea ports but
the Plant Quarantine Unit at the Trichy Airport Export cargo terminal follows
its own practice of closing down on all Sundays and government holidays.
The plant quarantine unit issues the mandatory phytosanitary certificates
for the agricultural products and flowers exported. Since the cold storage
system in the airport complex is too small, perishable goods like vegetables fruits
and flowers gets affected and become unfit for exports.
Since the construction of the new cargo terminal at the Tiruchi airport six
years ago, there has been a tremendous increase in export of vegetables fruits
and flowers from the airport situated close to the agriculturally rich
hinterland. The terminal is currently handling goods weighing around seven
hundred tons daily.
Perishables like vegetables, fruits flowers constitute nearly one hundred
per cent of the cargo handled at the airport and are being exports to Kuwait, Dubai,
Male, Kula Lumpur and Singapore.
Export activities come to a standstill on all Sundays and government
holidays as the plant quarantine department remains shut on these days. The
consignments wait at the airport for 48 before being loaded into aircrafts.
Unfortunately the cold storage available at the airport terminal is too small
to accommodate this cargo.
Consequently most of the perishable goods have to be discarded since in any
case importers will reject it on quality grounds. At least the air freight
costs could be avoided said an exporter.
It is time that the plant quarantine department at the Tiruchi airport
cargo terminal fell in line with the guidelines implemented by the government
and open their shop in all seven days of the week. The exporters are planning
to take up the issue with Union agriculture ministry under whose jurisdiction
the plant quarantine department functions. Exporters have given several
representations to the department but their officials stood their ground and
said no way they will open on Sundays.