Gold smuggling has become widespread in India during recent years. Ever since the imposition of strict rules on legal gold imports into the country in 2013, the smuggling acts have soared by nearly 900%. For the first time in history, the seized gold in a single financial year has crossed Rs 1,000 crore mark during 2014-15.
According to figures released by customs, police and revenue agencies, a total of over 3,500 kilograms of gold were seized during 2014-15. The quantity of seized gold has multiplied 10 times over the two year period. It must be noted that only 350 kilograms of gold were seized during the entire year 2012-13. The above figures represent only the tip of the iceberg, considering the estimates that only nearly 10% of actual smuggled gold are seized by officials.
The agencies highlighted the sudden rise in gold seizures in Nepal during this period. According to them, smugglers had used Nepal as a hub for transporting gold through Indian borders. However, with the recent earthquake leading to the death of the key conduit in illegal gold trading in the country, illegal gold trade from Nepal has witnessed sudden slowdown. Meantime, smugglers are seen exploiting new possible routes to push gold into the country. Increased number of gold seizure incidents was recently reported from Morey border in Manipur, Kandla port in Gujarat and Bangladesh border in West Bengal.
Also, smugglers are found enacting unique ways to smuggle gold into the country. Officials had recently intercepted a courier parcel which contained torch, whose batteries were made of gold. The DRI officials at the New Delhi International Airport had seized 60 kilograms of gold from courier packages containing mixer with gold blades and transistors with gold capacitors.
In a bid to suppress rising Current Account Deficit (CAD), the Indian government had raised the gold import duty to as high as 10%. The spurt in gold smuggling is partly attributed to the prevailing high gold import duty structure, says Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) - the apex body that represents India’s gems and jewellery industry.