Yellow lentils, imported from China and Singapore, are being smuggled into India, The Kathmandu Post reports. Recent seizure of 20 tonnes of the pulses from near the southern border of Nepal by a Federal Police Unit has exposed how smugglers are ruling the roost in this trade.
Smuggling cases have surfaced while traders have been asking the government to increase the cash incentive on the export of pulses. They want the government to waive the export duty on lentils, and increase the cash incentive from the existing one percent. They have asked that the provision be inserted in the budget statement for fiscal 2018-19.
In the latest incident, the police seized the lentils from Dudawa Municipality. After being questioned by the police, the tractor drivers said that they were transporting the agro product to Laxmanpur in Narainapur Rural Municipality located on the Nepal-India border.
Senior Superintendent of Police Mahesh Bikram Shah, the chief of the Federal Police Unit, said they raided the vehicles after receiving a tip that a shipment of lentils was headed to India. According to him, smugglers mainly use the Birgunj-Nepalgunj-Laxmanpur route to sneak third-country products into India.
“Such traders use tractors to transport pulses from Nepalgunj and transfer the cargo to Indian tractors at the border,” Shah said. According to him, they have handed over the shipment to the Office of Inland Revenue for further investigation.
The tractor drivers have not revealed the names of the owners of the agro products. They said that they had been hired to transport the pulses from General Store in Nepalgunj. According to the police, they confiscated the pulses after the transporters failed to produce the relevant paperwork.
The police said they had launched further investigations on suspicion that a group may be involved in the illicit trade. Birgunj is suspected to be the main gateway for smuggled pulses. The price of lentils in the local market is Rs 80,000 per tonne. Officials said smuggling may have swelled due to the higher price in the Indian market.
This is not the first time that the police have confiscated contraband lentils. Last year, Parsa police seized 1,350 sacks of yellow lentils weighing 40 tonnes and worth more than Rs10 million.
The shipment was being transported in six tractors bearing Indian licence plates. The police had intercepted the convoy at Janaki Nagar-9 in Parsa district.