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Seizures of illicit cigarettes jumps by 800% during Covid times

NEW DELHI: Authorities have seized illicit cigarettes worth around Rs 412 crores in the last five months across India.
The seizures witnessed a quantum jump of almost 800% from mere Rs 52 crores in 2019 (June-Oct) to a mammoth Rs. 412 crores for the same period in 2020, showed data from FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE). 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.
“There has been an almost eightfold increase over the year, indicating that India continues to be a target for tobacco smugglers in spite of several restrictions. It is clear that criminal enterprises are continuing to seek ways of ensuring infiltration of smuggled goods into the country,” said Anil Rajput, chairman, FICCI CASCADE.
“While the recent efforts of enforcement officers are laudable, we cannot afford to let the guard go down and must maintain strict vigil to ensure that these offenders are kept at bay,” he added.
In spite of several measures which are being undertaken by the government to tackle this problem, further steps are required, Rajput said, both in the form of policy intervention and awareness generation.
In order to create large-scale awareness of this menace, FICCI CASCADE has been conducting interactions with government and enforcement agencies across several states in India on the ways to mitigate this challenge.

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