Smuggling in India report, 2019-20

Context in Current Affairs: The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently released the Smuggling in India Report 2019-20. The report was released during the 63rd founding day celebrations of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.  The report analyses the smuggling trends on narcotic drugs, gold and foreign currency, security and commercial frauds.

Overall Findings of the Report

  • The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has so far detected 412 cases of smuggling that resulted in the seizure of 1,949 crores of rupees in the year 2019-20.
  • The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has arrested 837 economic offenders.
  • It has unearthed 761 Complex cases of customs duty evasion. This amounted to 2,183 crores of rupees.

Key Findings of the Report

Gold

According to the report, around 120 tonnes of gold were smuggled into India in 2019-20. This is 15% to 17% of the annual demand of the country according to the World Gold Council. The gold smuggling through the land borders has risen manifold in the recent years. The porous International borders of India with other countries such as Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh help the gold smugglers.

There is a 16 kilometre of a free movement Regime between India and Myanmar. This allows the people to travel without visa restrictions. This region if used by the gold smugglers and is also a part of the China Myanmar smuggling network.

Narcotic Drugs

In April 2019, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence along with the support of Assam Rifles conducted a secret operation in the fall of Manipur. During the operation around 1 lakh methamphetamine tablets were seized. These tablets are commonly known as YaBa tablets.

The Directorate Revenue of Intelligence did a total of 72 seizures under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances act in the year 2019-20. The highest number of seizures was reported in Uttar Pradesh followed by Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu.

Cigarette and tobacco products

According to the report, India has become the fourth largest illegal cigarette market in the world. In 2019-20, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has seized Rs 76.95 crores of cigarettes.

Wildlife smuggling

The Red Sandalwood is an endangered species of Indian wild flora. It is endemic to the southern Eastern Ghats. It is listed under appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna). The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence seized around 174 metric tonnes of Red Sanders or the Red Sandalwood in 2019-20 when it was to be exported to countries such as Malaysia, Taiwan and China.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has seized more than 9,120 star tortoise in the country in 2019-20. The Indian star tortoise are vulnerable species and are found in North Western India and South Eastern Pakistan, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, eastern Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It falls under schedule IV of Wildlife Protection Act. It has been listed under Appendix I of CITES.

Some of the other major seizures of wildlife in 2019-20 are as follows

  • Black and white Ruffed Lemur: Listed under Appendix I of CITES, Critically Endangered species
  • Hollock Gibbon: Schedule I of WildLife PRotection Act, Endagered species.
  • Palm Civet: Endangered species under Schedule II of Wild Life Protection act, 1972.
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