The government has put on alert customs officials at all international airports and land and sea borders to further intensify measures to check gold smuggling, which it suspects could rise during the ongoing festive season, says a PTI report.
The move comes following a three-fold jump in the cases of gold smuggling since the beginning of this fiscal compared to approximately the same period last year.
Officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and customs department have registered at least 1,780 cases of gold being smuggled into the country between April and August. The total value of gold seized in these cases is Rs 470 crore, official sources said.
About 550 such cases were registered during April and September, 2013, and had resulted in seizure of gold worth Rs 153 crore, they said.
DRI, which acts as the lead agency for checking smuggling and customs duty evasion, has issued an alert for all international transit points across the country to step up their vigil to check the smuggling of gold, the sources said.
The circular warns of new modus operandi in the smuggling of gold, including through soft drink bottles, household items and footwear, among others, they said.
The smugglers are using new ways to smuggle gold into the country to meet the rising demand for the yellow metal.
"Of late, they have started preferring sea routes rather individual carriers. Recently, there has been a seizure of one such consignment at a Gujarat port in which gold was being smuggled through soft drink bottles. All field staff have been alerted about the possible rise in the cases of gold smuggling," a source said.
There are 19 international airports in the country -- Srinagar, Amritsar, Jaipur, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Nagpur, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Goa, Bangalore, Chennai, Calicut, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Port Blair.
Officials have also been asked to be alert at the international transit land routes, including Attari-Wagah border (Punjab) and Munabao Railway Station in Jodhpur (Rajasthan), the sources said.
Gold smuggling cases have been on the rise during the past three years.
DRI and customs officials registered 500 and 869 cases of gold smuggling during 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively, in which the value of the gold seized was Rs 43 and 129 crore.
Cases of gold smuggling jumped to 2,441 during 2013-14. The quantity of yellow metal seized in these cases was 2,344-kg and was worth Rs 680 crore, the sources said.
The high demand of gold has been a matter of concern for Finance Ministry as it tries to control the Current Account Deficit which is the difference between the outflow and inflow of foreign currency.
The government has been making efforts to contain people's passion for gold, which results in large imports of the precious metal.
Gold imports rose five-fold to $3.75 billion in September after being at $682.5 million during the same month last year.
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