Kurukshetra IAS Academy Blogs

1. Chinese ‘dual-use’ cargo heading to Pak. seized

Karachi-bound consignment was intercepted by Indian Customs at Mumbai port on January 22 Equipment in it could be used for Pakistan’s nuclear missile development programme The consignee for the shipment was a firm which is already on Indian Customs watchlist

In the latest discovery of the possible transfer of dual-use items from China that could be used in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, two advanced Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines manufactured by GKD, Italy and bound for the port of Karachi were seized by Indian customs at Mumbai port in January. They continue to remain in Indian custody, according to sources in the security establishment.

The consignment was shipped on January 9 on a merchant vessel CMA CGM Attila, a Malta-flagged vessel from Shekou Port in China, and was heading to Karachi Port with Cosmos Engineering being the consignee, a source said. “The vessel reached Nhava Sheva Port (JNPT) Mumbai on January 22, 2024 and the consignment was seized by Indian customs officials based on intelligence inputs on possible proliferation concerns by Pakistan and China,” the source said. The equipment could be used in manufacturing critical parts for Pakistan’s missile development programme, said another source.

The consignment has been inspected by a team of experts from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, it is learnt.

Customs watchlist

On the condition of anonymity, Customs officials confirmed that Cosmos Engineering had been on their watchlist since March 2022, when Pakistan was trying to procure ‘thermo-electric instruments’ from an Italian firm, with Cosmos Engineering being the consignee. The same was intercepted at Nhava Sheva Port on March 12, 2022, under the policy to prevent proliferation activities through Indian ports.

Earlier, in February 2020, China was attempting to supply an autoclave to Pakistan under the cover of an ‘industrial dryer’, which was seized from a Hong Kong-flagged Chinese ship named Dai Cui Yun which left Jiangyin port on the Yangtze river in China’s Jiangsu province, and was headed to Pakistan’s Port Qasim. “The seizure of the autoclave, which could be used in Pakistan’s missile programme, strengthened apprehensions that Pakistan is continuing the illegal trade of missiles and violating the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR),” the first source stated.

The autoclave, which was mis-declared as an ‘industrial dryer’, is notified in the SCOMET (Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment and Technologies) list and was found concealed in the bottom of the cargo of the ship, as it transited through Gujarat’s Kandla port.

In June 2023, the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security sanctioned three Chinese companies — General Technology Limited (which had supplied the autoclave), Beijing Luo Luo Technology Development, and Changzhou Utek Composite — for their involvement in supplying missile-related items to Pakistan’s ballistic missile programme. The U.S. State Department had said the sanctions were imposed as part of the global non-proliferation regime.

China has also been assisting Pakistan in the construction of civil nuclear power plants.

2. IAF finishes black-topping of landing strip near LAC

The Indian Air Force’s Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Nyoma, close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, has now been black-topped (paved runway), while work is going on to extend the runway so that it can eventually handle fighter jets, according to sources.

“The work is about 15% complete and is now stopped due to winter. It will restart in April. It is on track to be completed in two years,” the source stated. Responding to apprehensions that the airfield could become an easy target for China as it is only 30 km away from the LAC, the source said it was very well located and would prove to be a great advantage for India. The first landing of a fixed-wing aircraft at the Nyoma ALG took place on September 18, 2009, when an AN-32 transport aircraft landed there. The runway is now being extended to 9,000 or 10,000 feet to enable it to handle all fighter aircraft in the IAF’s inventory.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had laid the foundation stone for the ALG last September, exuding confidence that this airfield would prove to be a “game-changer” for the armed forces. The ALG’s cost of development is approximately ₹200 crore.

Strategic infrastructure

The IAF also has airfields at Leh, Thoise and Kargil, as well as ALGs at Daulet Beg-Oldie and Fukche. However, the Leh and Thoise airfields are located in interior areas and officials said that the weather at Nyoma is much more stable in comparison to the other two airfields.

At the height of the standoff with Chinese forces in 2020, the IAF moved its Mi-17 medium-lift helicopters, CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, and AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to Nyoma to support the forward deployment of troops, as well as for surveillance and intelligence gathering purposes.

As reported by The Hindu earlier, to overcome the challenges that fighter jets face at high-altitude airfields, the engines are being tweaked to enable them to start at low temperatures.

3. Shah launches umbrella body for urban cooperative banks

Union Cooperation Minister Amit Shah on Saturday inaugurated an umbrella organisation for urban cooperative banks (UCB) — the National Urban Cooperative Finance and Development Corporation Limited.

Mr. Shah stated that the organisation was a necessity of the time, and marked a new beginning for self-regulation, which would manifold increase the development of UCBs in the country. “It is necessary that we upgrade ourselves and adhere to all the regulations of the RBI. If we fail to do so, we will not be able to sustain the competition in the times to come,” he said. He highlighted a major role of the organisation is to prepare small banks for compliance with the Banking Regulation Act. “Our goal should be to open urban cooperative banks in every city,” he said.

The Cooperation Minister said that the organisation had a collective strength of 11,000 branches with 1,500 banks, deposits of ₹5 lakh crore and loans totaling ₹3.50 lakh crore. He added that the UCBs had reduced their net non-performing assets (NPA) to 2.10%.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *