Post demonetisation there were fewer cases of smuggling. We have also increased surveillance at the arrival hall. In fact, recently, we have spotted several cases of currency smuggling. A CUSTOMS OFFICIAL
NEW DELHI: While the jury is still out over the real gains of demonetisation, customs officials say the exercise to recall ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes as legal tender hit gold smuggling through Delhi airport, as the number of seizures of the precious metal dipped by about 40% during the December-March period.
Officials confirmed that demonetisation was one of the main reasons behind the decrease in cases of gold smuggling through airport.
In the four months, from December to March, 120kg gold was seized at the airport in 2015-16. It was reduced to 70 kg during the same period in 2016-17, a reduction of ₹13 crore by the market value of the seized gold.
“Post demonetisation there were fewer cases of smuggling. We have also increased surveillance at the arrival hall to deter the smugglers,” said a customs official.
Due to considerable reduction in seizures post demonetisation, the entire financial year recorded a steep decrease in gold smuggling.
In 2015-16, the customs officials unearthed 350 cases of gold smuggling and seized 450 kg gold worth ₹110 crore.
But in 2016-17, the customs seized 260 kg gold worth ₹67 crore in 250 cases.
In the last two months — April and May — this year, customs officials have registered more than 15 cases and seized 32 kg of gold, valued at ₹10 crore.
Customs official said that gold smuggling is already on decline after government eased import curbs. But post-demonetisation it took a further hit.
“In fact, in recent times, we have spotted several cases of currency smuggling,” the officer added.
According to customs, as they have increased the vigil, smugglers are trying every possible trick — from stitched bars in a bra, stuffing biscuits in the iron frame of a baby walker or hiding it inside microwave oven, toys and confectionary boxes .
Official claimed that earlier most smugglers tried to get away by hiding the precious metal in their shoe cavities.
“In the 80s and 90s when the gold smuggling was at its peak, several cases were reported when smugglers were caught hiding gold bars in the shoe sole. The shoes were specially prepared for the smuggling purpose. Later, bags designed with false cavity were used by the criminals,” the official added.