NEW DELHI, Dec 5:
About 833 kilogram of smuggled gold of value Rs 405 crore was seized by revenue intelligence officers in 2021-22 with bulk of the precious metal coming from bordering nation Myanmar, according to a finance ministry report.
Officers of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have detected a significant shift in the pattern of gold smuggling during the pandemic as the largest amount of gold seized in 2020-21 and 2021-22 was of Myanmar origin.
In 2019-20, the largest originating country/region of smuggled gold was the Middle East.
During 2021-22, 160 cases of gold smuggling were detected. Gold weighing 833.07 kg valued at Rs 405 crore was seized by DRI officers.
The DRI’s ‘Smuggling in India report 2021-22’ said there is an involvement of organized trans-national crime syndicates in smuggling gold using ingenious concealment techniques, even during the pandemic.
India is the world’s second-largest consumer of gold after China. India’s gold imports were worth USD 34.62 billion in 2020-21 and rose by 33.34 per cent to USD 46.14 billion during 2021-22.
The report also said there has been a surge in gold smuggling using the courier route. Also, the smugglers are using the land route since there was a disruption in air traffic during the pandemic.
“Much of this smuggled gold originated in Myanmar and was smuggled into India through the old Tamu-Moreh-Imphal trajectory in Manipur, which goes through a vast expanse of unguarded but difficult terrain, and the Zokhatwar route in Mizoram,” the report added.
During the year, DRI seized a total of 28,334 kilogram of narcotics in 103 cases.
Traditional smuggling of narcotics into India has always been through the passenger route. During the pandemic, however, an increased number of cases were detected wherein narcotic substances were found to have been smuggled through the cargo route.
This can largely be attributed to the breakdown of passenger air traffic during the pandemic and also to the recent political changes in Afghanistan, the DRI report said.
The DRI report also expressed concern over cigarette smuggling, saying that high incidence of tax on the sin good is resulting in a tax arbitrage in favour of smuggling.
It said the smuggled cigarettes are, on an average, 50 per cent cheaper in the Indian market as compared to the the similar domestic brands.
From a public health perspective, the smuggling of cigarettes also poses a serious challenge since a part of the smuggled cigarettes are counterfeits and the quality of tobacco and other ingredients used in them, is inferior, it added.
During 2021-22, 11 crore sticks valued at Rs 93 crore were seized by DRI officers. While 47 per cent of this originated from Myanmar, 22 per cent came from the UAE and 31 per cent from others.
The report said COVID-19 pandemic has forced the policymakers and the businesses worldwide to thoroughly revisit their prevalent policy/business models. The same holds good for smugglers and contraband traffickers as well.
“Like any other economic agent aiming to maximize his profitability within the exogenous and force majeure constraints, these nefarious elements too swiftly adapted to the dynamics of changing circumstances and started using novel modus operandi which were robust and resilient to the challenges posed by the pandemic,” it added. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, Dec 5: