KOCHI:The stint of K N Raghavan as Cochin Customs Commissioner came to a close on Tuesday.The man behind a slew of game-changing measures, in a candid chat during a farewell organised for him in Kochi, said he had enjoyed his term.
The outgoing Customs Commissioner was behind the busting of the alleged Muvattupuza gold smuggling syndicate.
On his last day of office, Raghavan had completed four years, the maximum number of years of deputation allowed to him and an additional period of eight months, given in view of sterling tenure.
The Customs Commissioner had made an imprint on the ancient port town by streamlining the processes for imports and export when all activities relating to containerised cargo were shifted to ICTT Vallarpadom.
He was instrumental in setting the Custom Export Processing Centre at Vallarpadom to facilitate movement of export containers from factories directly to port terminals without going to any Container Freight Station.
Another highlight during his stint were the measures taken to reduce dwell time and transaction costs.
In Kochi, dwell time (time taken from arrival of vessel carrying cargo till clearance of cargo from Customs) used to be in the range of 15-16 days in 2012-13, which was brought down to almost eight days by 2017.
Prompt payment of drawback and refund were other achievements of his. In Cochin Custom House, drawback for exports is disbursed within five days of the date on which an Export Manifest is filed. This is the quickest amongst all formations in the country. Through a document management system, he sorted out the issue of old documents which has dogged officers.
The biggest challenge in his career was tackling the rise in gold smuggling. There was a spurt in gold smuggling post-2013, following the hike in Customs duty on gold to 10%.
A combination of risk analysis based on passenger profile along with stricter non- intrusive inspection of cargo was adopted to tackle this challenge. This yielded results as seen from the huge hauls of gold at the Cochin International airport since July 2013.
Detention orders under COFEPOSA were also issued in more severe cases and action for forfeiture of property was launched.
He has also effectively tackled smuggling of narcotic drugs including ketamine, amphetamine, hashish etc, and other contraband such as red sanders wood, wild life flora and fauna and silver.
Tackling of commercial frauds, and forming a new initiative named Customs Cadet Corps (CCC) launched by the Cochin Customs in 2015 were also feathers in his cap. The CCC imparts parade and other life skills training to selected students.