This is the 2nd such seizure in a month; load might have been on its way to Andamans: police

A routine vehicle check during a traffic jam led to the seizure of nearly 6 tonnes of banned chewable tobacco products from a lorry near Vaidiyanathan bridge on Ennore High Road in Tondiarpet on Thursday. The seizure was the second such instance in less than a month after the consignment confiscated near the bridge on August 12. However, the volume of the seizure this time was almost double that of the previous occasion.

Police said that the consignment might have been heading to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where there is no ban in place, via Chennai port.

On Thursday, around 1 p.m., a team of policemen from the R.K. Nagar police was checking vehicles amidst the chaotic traffic. They stopped a lorry bearing a Tamil Nadu licence plate and found gutka packed in 160 gunny bags, each containing 40 kg of the banned product. The police immediately seized the vehicle and questioned the driver, M. Aruldoss (40), a resident of New Washermenpet. During the interrogation, the driver stated that the consignment was being transported from a warehouse in Tondiarpet to Mint Street in north Chennai. However, police officers expressed doubts regarding his account and said that it was unlikely that the consignment was being transported across such a short distance, that too within the city limits where there is a ban on the transport and sale of gutka. Police officials suspected that the consignment was instead being transported to the islands.

The police then informed officials of the Food Safety and Drug Administration department. A team of food safety inspectors led by S. Elagovan took possession of the banned products and the vehicle.

“The seized products will be destroyed at the Kodungaiyur dumping yard along with another tonne of gutka that was seized from Sowcarpet last week,” said an official. The Tamil Nadu government banned the manufacture, storage, distribution and sale of carcinogenic chewable forms of tobacco in May. Ever since, the contraband has been smuggled into the city through various means. On August 3, officials seized over 16 tonnes of products at Central Railway station on a train that had come in from Nizamuddin.

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