Amid heightened border tensions with China, Indian customs officials have started physical inspection of all consignments coming from the neighbouring country based on intelligence inputs.
Although there is no formal order, but Indian customs authority is inspecting consignments originating from China that arrive at any airport or port, government sources with direct knowledge of the development said.
Authorities are checking documents, goods and valuation, they said.
"No orders, verbal or written, have been issued to any port by customs or by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) to bar or not to accept containers from China. If in some cases, some containers are held up then they are for the intelligence input and on the basis of risk assessment, as a routine exercise," a government source said.
Sources further said that although physical inspection is resulting in delayed clearance of goods, in current situation the customs officials will have to work in coordination with other intelligence agencies.
The move has resulted in a retaliatory action by China with Indian exporters complaining of shipments being held up in Hong Kong.
Indian Exporters body FIEO flagged concerns over holding up of their consignments at Hong Kong and Chinese ports in response to a similar action being taken by Indian authorities at Mumbai and Chennai port.
FIEO has written to the Commerce Secretary to take up the matter with the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) as there is no formal instruction or circular to Indian Customs authorities for 100 per cent checking of Chinese consignments at domestic ports.
Last week, 20 Indian army personnel, including a Colonel, were killed in a violent confrontation with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, which has increased border tensions between the two countries.
About 14 per cent of India's total imports are from China. Between April 2019-February 2020, India has imported goods worth USD 62.4 billion, while exports to the neighbouring country stood at USD 15.5 billion.
The main goods imported from China includes clocks and watches, musical instruments, toys, sports goods, furniture, mattresses, plastics, electrical machinery, electronic equipment, chemicals, iron and steel items, Fertiliser, mineral fuel and metals.
India has time and again raised concerns over widening trade deficit with China which stood at about USD 47 billion during April-February 2019-20.