The total gold seized by Airport Customs officials at the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) during this calendar year has crossed one tonne. This is the largest ever gold haul in a calendar year reported by any Indian airport so far. The Customs Department held special celebrations at the airport to mark the event.
The total gold seizures crossed one tonne milestone, when the officials seized 700 grams of smuggled gold bars from a passenger who landed at the airport by an Indigo flight from Dubai. The gold bars worth approximately Rs 18 lakhs were recovered from the hand baggage belonging to the passenger.
According to Milind Lanjewar, Additional Customs Commissioner at the airport, gold smuggling has witnessed sharp rise ever since the gold import duties were hiked to 10%. The gold seizures have steadily risen over the past three years. In 2012, authorities had seized 63 kilograms of gold. The quantity of seized gold surged five-folds in 2013 to 346 kilograms. Further, it increased three-folds in 2014.
The value of gold seized during this calendar year is approximately Rs 250 crores, he added. From April to November this year alone, the Customs officials have seized nearly 737 kilograms of gold. With the airport implementing 100% screening of checked in baggage, ‘in-person’ smuggling has increased significantly.
Any relaxation in restrictions on gold imports is likely to reduce gold smuggling into the country. However, Indian Finance Ministry official had clarified last week that duty relaxation, if any, would be announced only during the next fiscal budget and not before that. The smuggling acts are thus expected to remain rampant in the country at least in the immediate near term.