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Smug smugglers sneakin? in gold

AFTER A lull of nearly five years, smuggled gold is back into circulation in Lucknow, especially among jewellery makers! The reason: Soaring prices of the yellow metal coupled with a surge in its demand not just in Lucknow but across the state.

india Updated: Apr 02, 2006 00:20 IST

AFTER A lull of nearly five years, smuggled gold is back into circulation in Lucknow, especially among jewellery makers!

The reason: Soaring prices of the yellow metal coupled with a surge in its demand not just in Lucknow but across the state.

“While smuggling of gold by passengers arriving from Dubai at the Amausi Airport has been adequately checked by the Air Customs Wing of the Department of Excise & Customs, the yellow metal continues to be smuggled through rail and road networks from state’s bordering across the border with Nepal,” say Customs sources.

Customs sleuths on directives from the Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) are already charging duty for gold in excess of 3 kg brought in by passengers arriving from Dubai.

A large number of women still smuggle gold into the country by wearing clothes which conceal smuggled jewellery. The lack of sufficient number of female staffmembers in the Air Customs Wing at smaller airports such as Lucknow or Varanasi make it impossible to frisk women who are suspected to be smuggling in a large haul of jewellery concealed behind their clothes, sources said.

The prevailing rate of Customs duty on gold bought legally into the country is 5 per cent. As per Customs regulations, a male passenger can bring “gold jewellery” worth Rs 10,000 while a woman can bring gold jewellery worth Rs 20,000 from a foreign country. Any gold jewellery beyond the permissible value is charged Customs duty at the rate of Rs 250 per 10 gms.

Sources said gold smuggling is taking place on account of inadequate strength of customs staff at “Land Customs Stations” (LCS) on the Indo-Nepal border which has 15-20 employees at each post checking on an average 400 trucks and equal number of other vehicles at the border posts daily on the Indo-Nepal border.

Smuggled gold consignments move from Raxaul (Using the Chinese border) to Gorakhpur and onwards to Lucknow while the other major routes followed by smugglers are from Bareilly and Gorakhpur in the state. Smuggled gold biscuits weighing 10 gms are usually concealed in a large number of small pockets in a specially tailored “jacket” commonly used by gold smugglers while using the land or the railway route, sources said.

The price of smuggled gold sold in the local market is between the prevailing market price in India and the international price which turns out to be cheaper for the jewellers to purchase in bulk quantities.

On a rough estimate a single trip by a smuggler can lead to 15 kg of gold coming in and this is in its purest form (24 carats), sources added.

First Published: Apr 02, 2006 00:20 IST