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Customs authorities have launched a drive to clean up key ports in the country where potential explosive material that arrived on Indian shores as part of scrap imports has caused major concern among the authorities.

The clean up drive, which is being carried out with the involvement of officials of the ministries of home and defence, comes in the context of last year’s deadly accident in Beirut port in which an explosion of stored ammonium nitrate left at least 200 people dead, several thousand injured and resulted in large-scale destruction of homes.

As part of the drive, army bomb disposal teams have visited various customs locations and are safely disposing of explosive material, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBIC) informed field officers in a communication last week. Mint has seen a copy of the communication.

Port facilities in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Kandla are being cleared of such material. CBIC informed field officers that progress in the drive will be sustained and all hazardous material will be removed and safely destroyed.

India allows import of scrap, including plastic, paper, metal, and rubber for processing and reuse by industry. With the government’s focus on circular economy and sustainable development, scrappage is now getting the attention of policy makers. Circular economy refers to an industrial system designed to eliminate wastage, encourage restoration and recycling and relies on clean energy.

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