The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials have confiscated foreign-origin black pepper smuggled into India worth nearly Rs 4 crore. The consignment was mis-declared as plywood and was bound for Nepal. While none has been arrested yet, officials said they were investigating the case.
The DRI suspects there is an organised syndicate working behind it to smuggle these commodities into India, ostensibly bound for Nepal (mis-declared as plywood) under the Indo-Nepal Trade and Transit Treaty.
Sources said the people behind the racket used to divert the smuggled goods into the Indian market. They then filled up the containers with Indian-origin plywood to send them to Nepal. Officials have seized 56 MT of black pepper of foreign-origin, worth Rs 3.92 crore.
Acting on intelligence that two consignments of Nepal-bound cargo were imported at Kolkata Port under the Indo-Nepal Treaty on Trade and Transit under gross misdeclaration. The declared goods, that is, plywood of Indian-origin will be loaded at a godown in Kolkata, replacing the imported and completely undeclared high-value black pepper. Discreet surveillance was mounted by the DRI officers for 48-odd hours round-the-clock and ultimately, two containers were seized with high-value black pepper, imported from Singapore in the guise of declared goods as plywood, read a statement issued by the DRI.
According to officials, as Nepal is a landlocked country, so it sources its imports through different sea ports of India under the provisions of the Indo-Nepal Treaty on Trade and Transit. Under this treaty, several sea ports are earmarked by the Government of India to handle such Nepal-bound cargo. These containers are sealed by the Indian Customs to ensure its safe passage through India. The transit routes from the landing port to the Nepal border points are also chalked out, so that the goods would follow the defined route and reach Nepal without posing any economic threat to the Indian economy.
“In the case at hand, it is seen that high-valued black pepper of foreign-origin was loaded in the containers coming from third countries such as Singapore in this case, instead of the declared cargo of plywood of Indonesia-origin. All the documents accompanying the consignment declare the consignment as plywood… the stipulated route was through Dunlop Bridge, Barrackpore, Krishna Nagar, Malda, Raiganj, Dalkhola, Purnia, Araria, Forbesganj, Jogbani. DRI officers found one of the containers along with its carrier vehicle in Howrah, which is clearly not on the defined route. Furthermore, the container with the trailer truck entered into a godown, where the original imported load of black pepper was offloaded from the container and the container was re-stuffed with Indian made plywood. This was done in a novel way without tampering the Indian Customs seal. The second container was also to enter the same godown, but after DRI intercepted the first one, the second container was offloaded from the carrying vehicle and abandoned in a dumping area of the containers. However, the second container and the carrying vehicle were also located,” read a DRI statement.