New Delhi: Apprehending a spurt in gold smuggling ahead of the festive season, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has put bullion traders across the country under its scanner and alerted its field formations to scan all their major dealings of the yellow metal.
Both land and air customs officers are minutely scanning consignments originating from Middle East and South East Asian countries to check smuggling of gold.
"There may be a rise in smuggling of gold ahead of the festive season. We have alerted all field officers to double check suspected consignments or dealings by bullion traders. Customs Overseas Intelligence
Network officers posted outside the country have also been told to keep a hawk eye on consignments originating there for India," a DRI official said.
He said officials will also check on illegal trade of the yellow metal at railway and bus stations falling in their jurisdictions.
The move comes after recent seizures of gold from various places across the nation, officials said.
Customs and DRI officials said that the upcoming festive season including Diwali and marriages solemnised between November and February push demand for gold in the country giving rise to its smuggling.
"There is sudden increase in suspected hawala transactions during the festive season (mid-October to mid- March) every year. The agencies will keep a check on all such activities," an officer of Central Economic Intelligence Bureau said.
DRI officials recently seized about six kg of gold bars and jewellery worth crores in this month from Bangalore.
In August, the officials had arrested two CISF men and three others for their alleged involvement in a gold smuggling racket and seized over 10 kg of precious metal worth Rs three crore from Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport.
Earlier in March, about 250 kg of gold plates imported from Dubai worth Rs 68 crore were seized by DRI officials from the premises of a trading firm here and in neighbouring Noida.
At present, 10 gm of gold cost about Rs 31,640.
A Finance Ministry report, citing high intrinsic value of gold, has said the yellow metal is preferred as an asset class for hiding 'black' income even in times of high inflation or uncertainties plaguing the economy, and despite chargeability of jewellery, gold and bullion to wealth tax.
It has also suggested better reporting and monitoring systems to trace the dealings in bullion and jewellery through Income Tax, Customs and Sales Tax Acts.