Officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) stopped a consignment of red sanders being exported from the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam on Friday.
The consignment of 13.5 tonnes of red sanders would fetch nearly Rs.1.25 crore in the international market. The export manifest showed that the consignment was to be exported to Dubai, but DRI officials suspect that it was being exported to Singapore. It is learnt that four persons have been taken into custody and are being interrogated in this connection.
The usual practice employed by smugglers is to list the consignment as being shipped to Dubai and change the address during the break in the trip at Colombo. The DRI was tracking the source of the consignment.
Red sanders have been banned from being traded in the international market. It is suspected that the material was brought to Kerala from Andhra Pradesh, most probably by road. The DRI officials conducted surprise checks at the ICTT terminal early in the morning following a tip-off.
The material was packed and sealed at a godown at Willingdon Island in the presence of Customs officials. Even though the consignment was listed as containing rubber door mats, no such material was present in the container, said DRI sources. The question of how the consignment received clearance from the Customs and reached the ICTT for shipping is being probed.
In a related development, the DRI lodged a complaint with the Mulavukadu police, stating that security personnel at the ICTT had obstructed them from carrying out their duty and prevented them from checking the container truck when they reached the spot around 4.30 a.m. Senior police officials said that a case had been registered on the basis of the complaint. Later, the CISF lodged a complaint with the same police station, alleging that DRI officials had behaved rudely with them. A case was registered on the basis of that complaint also.
In a media release issued in this connection, DP World, which handled the operations at ICTT, said that a container (with number TGHU3357848) was stopped before entering the terminal, while it was being transported by truck.
“ICTT being located within the SEZ, the terminal gates of ICTT are under the control and responsibility of the CISF, which has been appointed by the SEZ Development Commissioner who approves all permissions and access to the terminal. Therefore, any allegation of restriction of access by DP World is misdirected,” the release said. The release also said that only those export containers that have been cleared by Customs authorities are accepted into the terminal.