Indian cabinet approves shipping pact with Pakistan

Friday, 27 October 2006, 07:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: In a move expected to give a fillip to India-Pakistan trade, India Friday approved a revised protocol on resuming shipping services with Pakistan.

The revised protocol was approved by the cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday.

"The revised protocol will allow lifting of cargo between the two countries by third country vessels as well as lifting of third country cargo by Indian and Pakistani flag vessels from each others' ports," Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi announced after the cabinet meeting.

"This is expected to enhance tonnage under both flags and also result in competitive shipping rates," he added.

Giving figures, he said Indian exports to Pakistan had registered a 167 percent growth between 2001-02 and 2004-05, rising from 8.54 billion to 22.88 billion. Imports from Pakistan had risen 42 percent in the same period from 2.92 billion to 4.70 billion, he pointed out.

The cabinet also approved the purchase through a global tender of seven container scanning systems at a cost of 1.72 billion.

The container scanning systems will be deployed at Mumbai, Chennai, Tuticorin, and Kandla ports "and will reveal discrepancies, if any, between the declaration made in documents and the actual contents of the containers", the minister stated.

The cabinet also gave its approval for extending by five months till March 31, 2007, the term of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

"This will enable the commission to concretise its recommendations in a meaningful, purposeful and pragmatic manner," Dasmunsi explained.

The cabinet also decided to ratify the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted by UNESCO in October, 2005, the minister said

Source: IANS
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