Pune emerges as major transit hub for narcotics

Pune, Mar 30 | Updated: Mar 31 2007, 07:48am hrs
Pune is emerging as a transit and consumption centre for narcotic drugs. The Commissionerate of Customs, Pune, has seized narcotic drugs including heroin, ganja and hashish valued at about Rs 1.35 crore in 2006-07.Pune is a soft target for users, many of whom were migrants and the citys proximity to Mumbai makes it easier to route the drugs. The recent busting of the rave party by the police was just one example, SK Sawhney, commissioner of customs, said.

Official sources disclosed that farmers in regions near Solapur were cultivating ganja and this was the first time that these crops were being grown in the state. Sawhney said that the drugs came into the city through various routes from places such as Manali while drugs such as heroin were being sent out from the city to US and Australia.

The commissionerate has begun beefing up its narcotics wing to combat the drug menace. Around 26 anti-smuggling formations have been deployed along the coastline for national security. The department is replacing its old fleet with fast patrol boats with modern technology. Orders have been placed with two companies for these boats, he said. During the year, revenue collections from customs duties grew by 65% from Rs 151.78 crore to Rs 251 crore in 2006-07. Some amount was collected as tax arrears in the same period. Sawhney said that the commissionerate had detected six cases of commercial frauds relating to under valuation and misuse of export incentives involving customs duties of about Rs 1.50 crore. Seized goods valued at Rs 21.97 crore were disposed off through electronic auctions.

The commissionerate plans to begin electronic assessment of import and export cargo would be commissioned soon. We have demanded space from the Airports Authority of India to commence the air cargo complex and courier operations from Punes international airport, he said.