The Directorate of revenue Intelligence has seized a record over 2.4 lakh kg of ozone-depleting restricted refrigeration gas ‘R-22’, which was being smuggled into the country.

Taking note of its efforts in checking the smuggling of R-22 gas into the country, the DRI has been chosen for a United Nations award.

DRI has registered several cases involving attempted smuggling of ozone-depleting substances and effected seizure of 2,41,463 kgs of R-22 gas in the last year, agency officials said.

The gas, whose import is restricted, was being brought into the country illegally through various means including mis-declaration of good and outright smuggling, they said.

The illegal import of refrigerant 22 gas (R-22), which is used for air-conditioning applications, residential as well as process chillers and industrial refrigerant plants, has been noticed in India.

Smuggling of such ozone depleting substances (ODS), reduces the incentives for users to shift to alternative technologies using ozone-and climate-friendly refrigerants and hence is a matter of concern, the officials said.

The DRI, country’s premier intelligence agency dealing with matters relating to violation of customs law, has been awarded the prestigious ‘ECA Ozone Protection Award for Customs & Enforcement Officers (3rd Edition)’ by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in recognition of its contribution to enforce the trade provisions applicable to ozone-depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol.

Montreal Protocol is a multilateral environmental agreement aimed at restoring ozone layer via strategic management of ozone depleting chemicals.

India, being signatory to the Montreal protocol, is required to phase out consumption and production of ODS chemicals and for which legal framework has been put in place.

Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation) Rules, 2000 regulates and restricts the import and export of ODS.

The UNEP award aims to provide incentive and recognition to customs and enforcement organisations and its officers, who succeed in preventing illegal or unwanted trade in ODS and ODS equipment.

Though this award mainly covers European, Caucasus and Central Asian region, an exception was made this year due to the remarkable seizures affected by DRI.

DRI is one of the five organisations or individuals recognised and awarded the ‘3rd edition’ of the award this year, the officials said.

A representative of the DRI has been invited to attend the award ceremony in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in May.