Following Kerala’s ban on gutka, pan masala and similar tobacco products last month, many people are earning a profit by transporting these products across the Coimbatore border to the neighbouring state. The ban includes the manufacture, sale and storage of such products, but they are sold in the black market at high prices.
According to a “transporter”, a pan masala brand sold at Rs 3 in Tamil Nadu costs Rs 8 in the black market in Kerala. The profit for the carrier is Rs 4 per packet. “If 1,000 packets are delivered to an agreed place, the carrier can earn `4,000 in a single trip,” he said.
As Kerala has intensified checking on the border for tobacco products, agents carry the banned items by bus, train or private vehicles in small quantities. “Pan masala usually comes in small sachets and even a laptop bag is enough to carry thousands of them,” said a source. But it will be a tough task for the police to monitor this as the carriers use various modes of transportation.
The illegal transport of river sand to Kerala from Tamil Nadu has been controlled by thorough checking at the border. “Five cases of illegal transport of sand were registered in the last one week. But instances of transporting pan masala and gutka have not been reported yet,” said E S Uma, Superintendent of Police, Coimbatore district.