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Chinese fireworks worth Rs.3.6 cr seized in Mumbai

18-09-2014
18th September 2014

Courtesy: India Today

Chinese fireworks worth Rs.3.6 cr seized in Mumbai

Ahead of the festive season, Made in China firecrackers, being illegally shipped into India, have been seized in Navi Mumbai. Four accused have also been arrested in the case. The consignment they were trying to sneak in is worth Rs.3.61 crore, said Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) oficicials, who seized three firecracker containers in Kalamboli some days back.

The containers, they said, were stacked without mandatory customs procedures or payment of customs duty.

The DRI on verification found that "no bill of entry had been filed for the clearance of the said goods contained in these containers and that the print of bill of entry submitted with the Container Freight Station (CFS) for removal of the goods was fabricated."

According to rules, the import of fireworks is restricted as per the Foreign Trade Policy in force and is permitted only against a valid licence/permission issued by the appropriate authority.

IndiaToday.in has an exclusive copy of remand application filed by DRI on September 16, 2014, in the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, Urban, district Raigad, against the accused.

The remand application said, "From the above investigation, it appears that all accused are the part of an organised gang involved in the illegal import of fireworks (crackers) by procuring IECs against monetary consideration and importing goods by mis-declaration and who also had prior knowledge of the contents of the containers smuggled without filing bill of entry or payment of customs duty. The import of fireworks (crackers) falling under Tariff item 3604100 of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 is restricted under the Foreign Trade Policy 2004-2009."

The application further said, "In the present case, the importer had no such licence. The firecrackers being highly inflammable, its transportation and storage by ship is very dangerous to men who handle it and the property where it is stored."

A senior DRI official said, "Such acts not only cause loss to the exchequer or breach of import restriction but also give rise to grave public safety and national security issues as the modus operandi adopted by the cartel can be used to smuggle all kind of contraband materials into the country."

{mosimage}The firecrackers, seized by the DRI team, clearly show that it was manufactured in China (See pics). The exclusive pictures available with IndiaToday.in show "Made in China" written on the packaging.

Just a year ago, in October 2013, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had alerted the state governments about made-in-China fireworks making it to Indian shores. MHA was concerned since such fireworks contain Potassium Chlorate - an explosive chemical.

In a letter to all chief secretaries ahead of Diwali last year, MHA had alerted that more than 600 containers of fireworks were likely to be smuggled from China through various ports such as Kandla, Mumbai, Kolkata and Tuticorin.

"The firework products include Potassium Chlorate, which is a dangerous chemical and can ignite or explode spontaneously when mixed with a combustible material. Moreover, the Indian fireworks industry is under threat from these products as these are low priced due to usage of potassium chlorate," the letter had said.

The Chinese fireworks are also giving a tough time to manufacturers down south in Tamil Nadu especially in Sivakasi and villages of Virudhunagar district where around 80 per cent of fireworks is manufactured. Around 3,00,000 people are engaged in the sector.

China is the world-s largest fireworks manufacturer, exporting nearly 95 per cent of its production, earning Rs.5,000 crore every year. Therefore, there is no chance of Sivakasi matching that figure. And Indian manufacturers have been constantly complaining about problems they face due to illegal import of Chinese firecrackers.

"Chinese products are cheaper and technologically superior, suited for consumer-s needs. For example, we are not allowed to use Potassium Chloride, which adds colour and height to the fireworks. But China uses it blatantly. Similarly, Potassium Perchloride is banned in India, but used in China. We are living in the kerosene-era, whereas China is in the CFL-age," said J Tamilselvan, president of the Sivakasi-based Indian Fireworks Association.

The investigative agency DRI expects more seizure in the coming days as many more containers are likely to be imported to fulfill the rising demands of Dussera and Diwali festivals in India.


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