February 10, 2017 2:15:48 am
The Pune wing of the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) on February 7 raided gutkha manufacturers in Miraj, Sangli district, and arrested two persons in connection with the illegal manufacturing and supply of gutkha to different states in the country, said official sources.
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According to Vaishali Patange, deputy director of DGCEI Pune, the agency seized more than 8 lakh pouches of two gutkha brands — Raj Kolhapuri and Yatri. It also seized over 29 kg of gutkha premix and over 300 kg of packing material from the manufacturers.
“Preliminary estimates reveal that there has been duty evasion of Rs 67.1 crore till date. The syndicate would manufacture gutkha at night and transport the finished products by the next morning,” said Patange.
So far, the DGCEI has arrested the promoter of the manufacturing unit, Firoz Jamadar, and its supervisor, Shushupal Kamble. Two others connected with the scam are also under the scanner.
According to sources, the probe agency has allegedly found that the illegal gutkha manufacturers have links with the red sanders smuggling racket. They said Miraj had
become a hub of the gutkha manufacturing syndicate because of its vicinity to the Karnataka border.
“We have custody of the two accused in the case till February 13. We will try to reach the mastermind behind the racket,” said Vikram Wani, additional director of DGCEI, Pune.
In August 2012, the government through a circular had advised all states and union territories to ban the sale of gutkha and pan masala.
In September 2016, the Supreme Court banned the sale of all forms of chewable tobacco and nicotine, and directed authorities, including the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), to strictly enforce its directions. Following the apex court order, the government in December 2016 issued a complete ban on sale of food products containing tobacco and nicotine as ingredients such as gutkha, pan masala, zarda and tobacco-based flavoured mouth fresheners across India.
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