The major things smuggled are electrical goods, garments and electronic equipment.
Ernakulam’s busy railway stations continue to be attractive entry points for those looking to smuggle in goods evading taxes even as the Sales Tax Department has found putting up check-posts at railway stations not feasible.
It is the simplest of lures and the easiest of scams to operate. Bring in an equipment, say an electric fan, that does not exist in any records. If you can get past the taxman you can sell it, even at a discount, to make a profit.
A senior official of the Sales Tax Department told The Hindu on Tuesday that the department made daily inspection of goods coming out of the Ernakulam North and South railway stations. The intelligence squads deployed in the town area take turns to ensure daily visits to the railway stations.
These efforts have resulted in the number of detections increasing substantially though the Department keeps its fingers crossed considering that the city railway stations are the major entry points for electrical goods, ready-made garments and electronic equipment.
Electronic equipment are brought mostly from North Indian markets like New Delhi while electrical equipment, comprising motors and fans, water pumps and electrical cable, are brought in from centres in Tamil Nadu. Readymade garments are from centres in Tamil Nadu, including Coimbatore.
Though the official admitted that the number of cases of duty evasion detected by the department had gone up this year, the figures were still being tabulated.
One of the reasons for the increased detection of duty evasion was the cooperation on the part of the Railways. The tax officials have had no problems in entering the railway station premises though there have been allegations of connivance between insiders and potential smugglers.
The tax official said that a proposal to set up check-posts at the busy railways stations in the State, now being revived, did not look like an easy solutions because the smugglers continued to exploit weak links like multiple entry and exit points at railway stations. Ernakulam continues to dominate sales tax collection in the State, accounting for approximately 50 per cent of the revenue. Ernakulam town area, falling under Kanayannur Taluk, has been given a target of collecting Rs. 10,294 crore during the current financial year. Last year’s total collection for the whole of Kerala was more than Rs. 20,000 crore. Ernakulam rural has been given a target of Rs. 1,027 crore for the current financial year.