The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized 833.07 kg of smuggled gold worth Rs 405.35 crore in 2021-22 (FY22), a report released Monday showed. The highest amount of gold seized was of Myanmar origin, marking a significant shift from 2019-20, when the majority of it was from West Asia. In FY21, 69 per cent of the total gold seized worth Rs 1,199.4 crore originated from Myanmar.
The “Smuggling in India 2021-22″ report released by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on DRI’s 65th Foundation Day showed that 37 per cent of all the gold seized in FY22 was from Myanmar. 20 per cent of it originated from West Asia. In total, 73 per cent of smuggled gold caught was brought in through Myanmar and Bangladesh.
“Increased surveillance at international airports has forced the change of route from West Asia by air to land route, i.e. through the ChinaMyanmar-India borders. Geographically, India has land borders with five countries in the North Eastern Region, viz. Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and China,” the report said.
Manipur and Myanmar were the key states where gold arrived from Myanmar, the report added.
“Two flagged routes for smuggling of gold from Myanmar into India are Muse-Mandalay-Kalewa-Tedim-Zokhawthar and Muse-Mandalay-Kalewa-Tamu-Namphalong-Moreh. The former route is connected to Mizoram in India, whereas the latter route opens to Manipur in India,” it said. Muse connects Myanmar and China.
The highest amount of gold, 21.37 per cent, was seized from vehicles. It was followed by courier, clothes and body.
“Fuel tanks, dashboard, AC filters, seats, wheel axle, chassis cavity and spare tyres are used for concealment besides specially built cavities in the vehicles,” the report said.
The huge demand for the metal and high import duty were the key reasons for gold smuggling in India. The stability of its value and high liquidity were the other reasons. It facilitates money laundering, the growth of mafia groups and the drain of India’s foreign exchange, the report added.
India is the world’s largest importer of gold and the largest exporter of gold jewellery. According to the World Gold Council (WGC), Indian households may have accumulated up to 25,000 tonnes of gold.