New Delhi [India], November 18 (ANI): Complimenting the government and the enforcement agencies for seizing illicit cigarettes worth around Rs 412 crore in the last five months in India, FICCI's Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) on Wednesday said people cannot afford to let the guard down and must maintain strict vigil.
"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 the infiltration of smuggled goods into the country," Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE said.
"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," he added.
The seizures witnessed a quantum jump of almost 800 per cent from Rs 52 crore in 2019 (June-Oct) to Rs 412 crore for the same period in 2020. This comes in the wake of several cases being intercepted during the COVID-19 pandemic, said FICCI in a statement.
"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.
During the last five months, Customs, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Assam Rifles, Border Security Force 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. (ANI)