TIRUCHY: In September this year, the Crime Prevention and Detection Squad (CPDS) of the RPF busted an attempt in Puducherry to smuggle nearly 560 kg of banned tobacco products worth about Rs10 lakh through the railway parcel service. In November, the Southern Railway’s force seized Korean cigarettes estimated to be worth Rs 1.05 crore ferried through Tirur. The incidents over a span of three months have brought into the spotlight what may be loopholes in the parcel service network, particularly scanning of packages prior to transportation.
While Railway officials confirmed that it is not mandatory to scan the parcels sent through its network, they said the RPF is conducting regular checks to prevent the transportation of banned materials. Any suspicious-looking package is also opened at the time of booking, they added. Sources, however, admitted that it is not possible to check each parcel owing to the thousands the Railway receives in a day.
"One option to stop the transportation of smuggled goods or banned materials like tobacco products is to make the scanning of parcels mandatory. But it would take time as the Railway is a large network. At present, the Railway is taking a declaration from the sender regarding the content, and it will take action if
found that he/she sent banned materials through the parcel service," a source said.
The loophole in the network is also causing concerns for local body officials. "We have our doubts about the banned plastic bags and products reaching the State through the railway parcel service. Otherwise, how is it possible for merchants to get so much quantity of it?" a city Corporation official pondered.
Meanwhile, the top brass in the Southern Railway stated that the recent seizures have been considered seriously. We have reported it to the Railway Board and also to the divisions, said officials.
The recent seizure may be just the tip of the iceberg and the Railway has to take more steps to prevent the transportation of banned materials through its parcel service, sources stressed.