War on terror, crime caught in bureaucratic tangle

MHA bid to barcode detonators blocked by Ministry of Commerce on the ground that it will hike costs

The union ministry of home affairs’ (MHA) war against terrorism and crime is not paying off due to  constraints of the commerce ministry.

The MHA proposal to barcode detonators to check their pilferage by terrorist and Naxal groups for triggering bomb blasts, is stuck in the commerce ministry with bureaucrats arguing that such a move will push costs up and hurt the interest of industry.

Government sources said that the proposal mooted about five months back to barcode detonators manufactured by private companies under government licence is still to get the nod of the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), which comes under the commerce ministry.

This is the second step the government had taken in July last, after DIPP issued a notification declaring any substance with 45 per cent ammonium nitrate, essentially a chemical fertiliser, will be treated as explosives.

Stiff competition

The DIPP officials are believed to have told the government that barcoding detonators will increase the cost by four times and also hit exports. India is said to be one of the largest exporters of explosives but the companies are facing stiff competition from China which sells them cheap.

Sources said that government has to take a call on whether internal security or economics comes first.

Though the government has done its bit to check the use of ammonium nitrate as a constituent in making bombs, the chemical substance still finds its way into the hands of terrorists and naxalites as it is in the form of powder and difficult to control, said sources.
On the contrary, detonators cannot be fragmented for selling illegally; so barcoding could help in controlling their use.   

Even in the August 1 Pune serial blasts, detonators were used in an explosive mix of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil stuffed in boxes and planted on bicycles and in dustbins.    
The Maoists too have been using detonators to carry out blasts.

A huge cache of arms and ammunition, stocked by Maoists, were seized on Tuesday during a special operation by the police in the Aradapal forest in Odisha’s Jajpur and Keonjhar districts.

Among other things, 100 aluminium detonators were seized during the operation.

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