A major firecracker smuggling racket was busted recently, when the Nhava Sheva Customs seized four containers arriving from China.
Authorities found around 10 tonne (10,000kg) of firecrackers in each of them.
The containers were 20 feet in length. A few 40-foot containers are yet to be opened and officials suspect that five others have a similar consignment.
“There was high drama when the first container was opened,” an official from Nhava Sheva said, requesting not to be named. A fire tender was called to avoid any mishap, he added.
Firecrackers, classified as restricted items, can only be imported after obtaining due clearance by the chief controller of explosives under the Explosives Rules, 1983.
However, the consignment was smuggled in by declaring it as glassware. It was lying unclaimed since September, inviting the suspicion of Customs officials.
“The consignments were declared as glassware items so that the entire container would not be checked,” an official from Nhava Sheva said, requesting anonymity.
In case of glassware, importers request authorities not to empty the entire container for checking, as it could damage the contents, the official informed.
On opening the containers, authorities found some boxes of glassware items in the front, while firecrackers were concealed behind them
Officials suspect that the consignment was meant for sale during Diwali, but those who were supposed to clear it developed cold feet and did not claim it.
The process of opening the containers began around two weeks ago.
The first container was filled with a particular firecracker. "It was a thicker version of a matchstick and to burst it, one has to rub it on the ground and then throw it,” the official explained.
The other containers contained various others, including some fancy ones. “These firecrackers are of a poor quality, hence they are cheap,” the official said, explaining the reason for smuggling it.
He added that the remaining containers would be opened soon.
The authorities are searching for the person who smuggled the consignment, but the names and addresses given in the official documents are false.
“They had obtained the import-export code (IEC), mandatory for import and export, using fictitious names and wrong addresses,” the official said.