Cigarette smuggling increase during Covid-19 lockdown

NEW DELHI :
After foreign brand cigarettes worth nearly 12 crore were seized from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Navi Mumbai, industry body FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) said smuggling of cigarettes has increased during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

In one of the biggest seizures during lockdown, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had seized foreign brand cigarettes worth 11.88 crore which had arrived from Dubai last week.

Amid lockdown, several cases of seizures by enforcement agencies of smuggled imported cigarettes have been reported indicating a spike in cigarette smuggling over the last few months. The trend is nationwide, with seizures intercepted via road transport, in cargo and passenger luggage.

FICCI’s arm said several cases of seizures by enforcement agencies of smuggled imported cigarettes reported in the last few months indicate a spike in cigarette smuggling during lockdown.

“The trend is nationwide, with seizures intercepted via road transport, in cargo and passenger luggage,” FICCI CASCADE said in a statement.

Expressing concern FICCI CASCADE Chairman Anil Rajput said, “cigarette smuggling is a big racket across the globe and India continues to remain a hot bed for this menace. Even as the country is grappling with the coronavirus crisis, the seizures of such goods remain high.”

Citing a recent study, FICCI CASCADE said while cigarette smuggling has now become highly lucrative activity, it has caused 3.34 lakh job losses and urged for more active vigilance.

FICCI CASCADE in its recommendations to curb illicit trade to government earlier this year had suggested a reward scheme for the officers to be put in place for tobacco on the same lines like narcotics and psychotropic substances which are also destroyed after seizure.

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[Source: live Mint]

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