The Chennai custom department is upbeat in cracking illegal smuggling activities in the region. In a recent raid by Chennai custom have seized 70.56 lakh of Indonesian cigarettes, worth Rs 9 crore, as per their official press release.
Acting on a specific tip-off, the Special Intelligence and Investigation Branch, Chennai Customs department intercepted a consignment of nine containers at the port here which were declared as “gypsum powder”. The consignment was powder imported by M/s Kisan Exports, Dindigul. The consignment, originated from Iran, was loaded at Jebel Ali Port, UAE, an official release said.
On opening the cartons, officials found it contained 60 boxes of cigarettes, each containing 20 units under the brand ‘ Gundang Garam International Indonesia” Indonesia”. A total of 70.56 lakh cigarette sticks, approximately valued at Rs 09 crore. The consignments were seized under the provisions of Customs Act 1962, the release said.
As per the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 2003 (COPTA 2003), cigarette packets shall have health warning to cover 85% of the principal display area of the package (60% shall cover pictorial warning and 25% shall cover textual health warning). The seized cigarette packets were found to be printed with statutory warnings in English and Arabic, covering less than 50% display area of the package.
As per Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules 2011, the name and address of the manufacturer/importer or packer, quantity of the product, month and year of manufacturing and retail sale price are mandatory. However, the same were not found printed on the seized cigarette packets.
“Gudang Garam” brand of cigarettes are made up of crushed clove, clove oil and tobacco, which gives the cigarettes a unique clove flavour and are popular among youth. Since the pictorial warnings on the pack is less than the mandatory 85%, the smoker believe that they are smoking much safer cigarettes than Indian cigarettes.
A senior official from Customs department on the condition of anonymity said “Gudang Garam brand of cigarrtets are very popular among rich Indian people. The smugglers are fetching good money from buyers. But intelligence wings of customs have enhanced their informer’s network to nab culprits. We have ensured all around vigil is enhanced to nab smugglers”.
Author: Sitaram Mewati
Award winning journalist