Revenue loss for one hour estimated at Rs.14,400

The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on Wednesday said it detected large-scale smuggling of poultry, perishable goods, and construction materials into the State from Tamil Nadu through various border check-posts, primarily the one at Amaravila near here.

N. Sankar Reddy, VACB director-in-charge, had ordered the secret surveillance operation code-named “Operation Border Watch” last weekend.

Anti-corruption enforcers, armed with concealed surveillance cameras, had staked out at various check-posts on Saturday and Sunday. They said the smuggling took place allegedly with the active connivance of check-post officials during the early hours of the day.

At Amaravila, the enforcers found that between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Sunday, at least 15 vehicles carrying live domesticated fowls entered Kerala from Tamil Nadu through the check-post. Each vehicle carried at least 150 kg of chicken.

None of the vehicles were stopped, their consignments weighed, or taxes levied at the check-post. (The government levies a tax of 12.5 per cent on every kg of poultry meat imported into the State from Tamil Nadu.)

The VACB estimated the revenue loss to the government for that one hour alone at Rs.14,400.

The agency said it calculated the loss by putting the price of smuggled poultry meat at a modest Rs.60 per kg. The supermarket price of the dressed chicken was Rs.125 per kg, they said.

No records kept

The check-post officials kept no record of the entry of the vehicles. In contrast, the Animal Husbandry Department's check-post, a little away, recorded the registration numbers of the vehicles that transported live chicken.

VACB investigators said the racket could extend beyond poultry and might also include the smuggling of vegetables, tiles, bricks, construction material, construction steel, cement, mechanical grinders, water pumps, steel vessels, rice, provisions, and other domestic goods brought into the State from Tamil Nadu.

Similar secret surveillance was carried out almost simultaneously at check-posts at Aryankavu in Kollam and Meenakshipuram and Nedupuri in Palakkad.

Investigators said smuggling seemed to be most rampant at Amaravila compared to other districts. They said cases would be registered against the check-post officials concerned after a detailed investigation. Department-level action would be recommended where necessary.