BANGALORE: Saffron (Kesari) that is believed to possess magical powers is among the high-value items being smuggled regularly at the Bangalore International Airport.
The Bangalore Customs, which has now put in smart tools to scan passengers and their belongings, also have in their list of regular seizures cigarettes, mobile phones, sleek electronic gadgets among others.
Speaking to Express on the eve of the 50th Year of Indian Customs Act, J P Gregory, Chief Commissioner of Customs, Bangalore and Mangalore Zone, said non-availability of quality saffron and the exorbitant pricing are two major reasons for smuggling. “It is easy to carry. The non-availability propels the demand. It mainly comes through couriers from Gulf countries, which might be sourcing it from Iran. In India, saffron is available in Kashmir,” Gregory said.
The Bangalore Customs has expanded its role over the years as a major facilitation agency, adopting some of the best practices in the world. “Customs-clearance is now based on risk-management techniques and post-clearance audit. Visit-patterns of the passenger, polite, yet vigilant profiling are some of the new-age practices we have put in place,” Gregory said.
As a new initiative by the Customs, the importers are given the option of self-assessment.
“They have been given the freedom to assess the documents and pay duty faster. Post-clearance audit for reputed accredited clients is also in place,” he said, who is heading a 700-plus strong force in Karnataka.
In the current fiscal the revenue target of Bangalore Customs is `4,410 crore, out of which `3,199 crore has been already collected till December, 2011. The revenue growth is 29 per cent compared to corresponding previous financial year (up to December 2010).
This year, the World Customs Organisation (WCO), which is incidentally celebrating the 60th anniversary this year, has decided to dedicate International Customs Day with the theme: Borders divide, customs
Today’s Golden Jubilee celebrations at HAL Convention Centre at 3 pm is attended by Dr Devi Shetty and Capt (Retd) Gopinath among others.