Corrupt Customs officials are allegedly clearing containers at the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Tughlakabad (TKD), without scrutiny, thereby putting national security at high risk, according to experts on internal security. ICD comes under Ministry of Finance.
|CBI and DRI launched a month-long ‘investigation and examination’ of the containers on 1 March 2016.|
Santosh Kumar Jain, a former officer of the Financial Investigation Unit (FIU) and an expert on internal security, said: “The Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Tughlakabad, a dry port, has turned into a den of corruption and shady Customs officials are allowing the clearance of containers without examination, thereby compromising national security. There are cases where Customs officials did not examine containers despite being prompted by the Electronic Data Interchange system for 100% examination of containers.”
“Just for earning a few extra bucks, some Customs officials are not only compromising national security, but their activities are leading to huge losses in revenue for the exchequer,” Jain, who has been in several committees formed to curb corruption in inland ports, said.
Evidence accessed by The Sunday Guardian shows that after sensing rampant corruption and illegal trade at the ICD-TKD port, premier investigative agencies in the country, including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), launched a month-long “investigation and examination” drive on 1 March 2016, to check all suspicious containers, mostly originating from China, Dubai and Thailand, among other countries.
However, the agencies involved in the investigation have not made their findings public as to whether any unwarranted goods were found during the course of “investigation and examination”, but sources said that banned Indian currencies of higher denominations were found in several containers.
A spokesperson of Karol Bagh Traders Federation (KBTF), on the condition of anonymity, said: “Customs officials have joined hands with several importers involved in illegal trade. These officials have set up a parallel system at the ICD-TKD and have even appointed their own personnel who help them in collecting bribe money during office hours.”
Instead of stopping illegal trade practices, Customs officials are helping the touts, the KBTF spokesperson alleged, adding that these officers even harass importers-exporters not willing to pay bribes.
Despite action against some senior officials, the Customs Department has failed to bring an end to the prevailing corruption at the Inland Container Depot at Tughlakabad or introduce any mechanism to stop the illegal activities.
“In 2015, the CBI had arrested Atul Dixit, Commissioner of Customs at ICD-TKD and Nalin Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Customs, ICD-TKD, for their alleged involvement in a case of fraudulent garments export and dubious transfer of drawback incentives,” the KBTF spokesperson added.
However, Nilank Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Customs, ICD-TKD, denied all allegations of rampant corruption at ICD-TKD.
“I am not aware of any corruption here in ICD-TKD. If any complaint comes, we will take action against those responsible,” he said.