Seizure of illicit cigarettes jumps by 800% during COVID times
NEW DELHI, 18 November 2020: FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) applauds the enforcement agencies in India for their increased vigilance to combat smuggling activities. In a commendable feat, the agencies have seized an astounding quantity of illicit cigarettes worth around Rs 412 crores in the last five months across India. The seizures witnessed a quantum jump of almost 800% from Rs 52 crores in 2019 (June-Oct) to Rs 412 crores for the same period in 2020. This comes in the wake of several cases being intercepted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the last five months, Customs, DRI, Assam Rifles, BSF and State Police have reported large seizures of illicit cigarettes in Mumbai, Kolkata, North East, Bhopal, Hyderabad, and several other cities. The increase in the scale of seizures not only highlights the importance of the work done by enforcement agencies but also calls for continued focus on tackling the widespread menace.
Mr Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE said, “There has been an almost eightfold increase over the year indicating that India continues to be a target for tobacco smugglers despite several restrictions. Criminal enterprises are continuing to seek ways of ensuring infiltration of smuggled goods into the country.”
Complimenting the government and the enforcement agencies for relentlessly pursuing the perpetrators, Mr Rajput added, “While recent efforts of enforcement officers are laudable, we cannot afford to let the guard down and must maintain strict vigil to ensure that these offenders are kept at bay.”
Despite several measures that are being undertaken by the government to tackle this problem, further steps are required, both in the form of policy intervention and creating awareness. To create large-scale awareness, FICCI CASCADE has been conducting interactions with government and enforcement agencies across several states in India on the ways to mitigate this challenge, he further added.