3 tonnes of contraband may have been headed to A&N islands via Port
A patrol team of the R.K. Nagar police seized three tonnes of banned chewable tobacco products from a lorry near Vaidiyanathan bridge on Ennore High Road in Korukkupet on Tuesday.
Investigations revealed the consignment might have been heading to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where there is no ban in place, via Chennai port.
Police personnel said that as part of security checks conducted before Independence Day celebrations, a five-member patrol team was inspecting vehicles along Ennore High Road early on Tuesday, and stopped the lorry that had Tamil Nadu registration plates (TN 18 Q 5107).
The team found gutka packed in 100 gunny bags, each containing 30 kg of the banned product.
The police immediately detained the vehicle and questioned the driver, S. Akilesh Tiwari (32) from Jharkhand, and the lorry cleaner, Manoj Kumar (20) from Himachal Pradesh.
During the interrogation, the driver stated that the consignment was from New Delhi and was on its way to Bangalore. But since the police officers doubted that the route from New Delhi to Bangalore would pass through Chennai, they investigated further and established that the consignment was headed 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 a previous seizure of one tonne of gutka 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 this year.
However, ever since the ban came into effect, the contraband has been smuggled into the city through various means. On August 3, food safety officials seized over 16 tonnes of chewable tobacco products at Central Railways station on a train that had come in from Nizamuddin.