122 Containers Detained at Nhava-Sheva on Suspicion of Trade Goods Linked to Duty Evasion

Nhava Sheva

The Custom Central Intelligence Unit (CIU) of Jawaharlal Nehru Custom House (JNCH), in what is being hailed as its biggest operation yet, has put on hold 122 containers that entered the Jawahar Lal Nehru Port (JNPT) on the same ship. The containers have been detained on suspicion of containing banned Chinese fireworks, electronic items, microchips, and other contraband.

The CIU issued an order to the managers of all Container Freight Stations (CFS) and port terminals at Nhava Sheva stating that it has received confidential intelligence that the containers are alleged to have been brought through false declarations. The managers are to detain the containers in their premises, and submit details including bills of entries, assessment, and examination status, via email to the CIU.

The agency has information about the supply of trade goods linked to duty evasion and containing banned Chinese firecrackers. However, the specific information received by the CIU and the purpose of their search is known only to a few officers involved in the investigation. The customs department has not officially released any information regarding the operation.

Considering that the search and examination of these containers is a lengthy and complex process, the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of several CFSs and docks will examine the containers on their premises. They will focus on the containers marked as ‘hold’ and examine the bill of entry for any mis-declared items.

According to the sources, the customs received specific information about these containers during the examination of several containers that arrived at the Punjab Conware warehouse in Navi Mumbai. The officials found banned Chinese fireworks, all originating from the same Chinese supplier who was earlier identified in a similar case. Consequently, all containers associated with the supplier were placed on hold and referred to the CIU. While some containers have been cleared, others continue to reveal Chinese firecrackers, trade goods, mis-declared / prohibited electronic items, microchips, and other items.

The import of fireworks is restricted under Customs Rules and requires a license from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). The measure is aimed at preventing the influx of poor-quality foreign firecrackers containing toxic chemicals like red lead and lithium. China has been suspected of smuggling contraband consignments of banned fireworks for distribution and sale in India.

In 2009-2010, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had collaborated with the customs department to conduct a massive operation detaining 2,500 containers. At the time, banned items such as Chinese fireworks, trade goods and mis-declared items were found in the containers. In a two-month-long operation, the DRI and customs inspected all 2,500 containers, leading to the seizure of banned items from more than 50 containers. Those involved were not only served show-cause notices but also faced penalties amounting to crores of rupees.

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