The customs officials here seized 29 kilo gold in two separate incidents,putting the spotlight on Kolkata,which is turning into a transit point for international smuggling of the yellow metal.
While 24 kg gold,worth Rs 7.68 crore,was recovered from the toilet of an aeroplane last night,the customs sleuths seized another 5 kg
of the yellow metal worth Rs 1.5 crore from Burrabaazar area in central Kolkata today. Five people have been arrested in connection with the Burrabaazar seizure.
With this,the customs department has recovered nearly 44 kg gold in total 42 seizures in last seven months from the airport,said a senior official. The preventive cell of the customs,too,registered nine cases of gold seizure in Kolkata and adjoining areas.
In the latest incident,the cleaning staff found two unclaimed bags in the toilet of a Jet Airways aircraft,which had come from Bangkok Monday night and informed the Airport Intelligence Unit of the customs department. The aircraft had landed at NSCBI airport after flying though seven other ports,including two international airports - Dubai and Bangkok. In one of the biggest recoveries,we found 24 bars of gold,each weighing one kilo,from the aircraft. We have started investigations, said H K Chaturvedi,chief commissioner,customs department,eastern region. No arrests have been made.
As per the officials,in last three months,gold smuggling in the state has touched an all time high,which is evident from the cases of seizure made by several central agencies. Apart from the customs department,the DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence),sources said,intercepted a consignment of 58 kg of gold at the Mahadipur international border check post in Malda district on November 9. The gold was found in a car that was coming from Bangladesh to India.
As per the officials,gold smuggling has risen sharply after Centre hiked import duty on the yellow metal. Earlier the duty used to vary between 2 per cent to 3 per cent,while it now 10 per cent of the value. One one kilo gold,smugglers save Rs 3 lakh.
This is one of the reasons behind increasing cases of smuggling, said a senior customs official.