Seventy bags of banned chewing tobacco products worth Rs.10 lakh were seized from the parcel van of Sampark Kranti Express in an early morning raid conducted by the Food Safety Wing officials at Madurai Railway Junction on Saturday.
Acting on specific information received from Punjab, the team reached the railway station by 3.30 a.m. and waited for the train.
As soon as the Nizamuddin-Madurai Sampark Kranti Express arrived, the team, led by J. Suguna, Designated Officer for Food Safety, Madurai district, began searching for the parcel bags in the luggage coach and found the chewing tobacco products.
“There were no names of persons who sent them or to whom they were supposed to be delivered in Madurai. We are enquiring about it with the help of Railway Police,” she said.
Four Food Safety Officers — V. Raja, S. Ramesh, L. K. Muralidharan and K. Saravanan — carried out the search along with the Railway Police and police personnel from Karimedu station.
Dr. Suguna said the Food Safety and Drug Administration Department had been conducting inspections ever since the State Government had banned chewing tobacco products.
“This was the first time that we had conducted raid on a train in Madurai. The seizure gave us suspicion that some bulk purchases are happening here despite the ban,” she said.
Collector and top railway officials were informed of the seizure of tobacco products. Railway police are investigating the matter.
Similarly, 10 parcels of chewing tobacco products, weighing over 500 kg and worth about Rs.6 lakh, were found unclaimed at the railway station in Virudhunagar on Saturday.
M. Kavikumar, Designated Officer, District Food Safety Wing, told The Hindu that the Railway Police alerted that 10 bags containing sachets of the banned product arrived by the Mysore-Tuticorin Express.
The parcels were addressed to one Mani of Mahatma Gandhi Road in Madurai.
He said the consignee must have found the situation not conducive for collecting the parcels in Madurai and let them go to Virudhunagar. Investigation was on to check the veracity of the address, he said.
Samples would be sent to the laboratory in Tirunelveli district to check whether the consignment was free from tobacco and nicotine, as stated on the parcels. If the claim was true, it would be handed over to the claimant. Otherwise, action would be taken as per rules, said Mr. Kavikumar.