Wheat export ban: 4,000 trucks loaded with wheat stuck in Gujarat port

The Centre’s ban on wheat exports has left at least 4,000 trucks carrying food grains stranded outside the Deendayal port in Kandla, Gujarat, without the permission of the authorities, port and industry officials said on Tuesday.

Last weekend (Saturday, Sunday and Monday), four ships were kept at the port awaiting additional permission to load after the ban was announced on May 13 due to a three-day holiday at the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), they said.

From Deendayal port in Kutch district, wheat is mainly transported to African countries, Bangladesh, South Korea and Yemen.

“About 4,000 trucks carrying wheat from Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and some other states have been parked outside the Kandla port for the last three to four days, waiting to be loaded due to uncertainty due to the Centre’s sudden export ban,” Teja said. Kangad, President of the local Gandhidham Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The problem was further compounded by the three-day holiday at DGFT on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, which resulted in four ships waiting for additional clearance from the DGFT for customs clearance following the notification of export ban on wheat exports to the port, he said.

Meanwhile, the port and local administration and the Gandhidham Industrial Corporation have arranged meals for about 7,000 to 8,000 drivers and cleaners of the stranded truck, an official from Kangad and Deendayal Port Administration said.

“We believe that about 20-25 lakh tonnes of wheat is awaiting clearance at Kandla port godowns, complexes and on trucks and ships,” Kangad said.

Deendayal port administration officials said efforts were being made to normalize the situation.

One of the four ships berthed at the port, Mana, was allowed to load the remaining 17,160 tonnes of wheat on Tuesday and was allowed to reach its destination in Egypt, they said.

Om Prakash Dadlani, a spokesman for the Deendayal port administration, said three other ships were still stuck waiting for clearance from authorities to load the remaining wheat and leave for their respective destinations.

“The other three ships are in the process of being approved and will be completed on time,” he said.

Three of the four ships were scheduled to depart on May 15, but were delayed due to a ban on wheat exports, Dadlani said.

“With the DGFT clearance, trucks have started moving to the port, and the situation has started to get easier,” he said.

Last week, the Commerce Ministry immediately imposed a ban on wheat exports, amid concerns over the impact on production due to the scorching heat and on controlling the domestic price of food grains.

The center said that in addition to meeting the foodgrain needs of neighboring and weaker countries, the decision would help control the retail price of wheat and flour, which has risen by an average of 14 to 20 percent over the past year.

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