With only 80 cops, KR is hot­bed for liquor smug­gling

The Konkan Rail­way, cov­er­ing a 740km route, has lately be­come the big­gest medium of trans­port­ing cheap al­co­hol from Goa to Ma­ha­rash­tra and Gu­jarat

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Dhaval Kulka­rni & Bi­noo Nair cor­re­spon­dent@ dnain­dia. net

The Konkan Rail­way ( KR) has lately be­come the big­gest medium of trans­port­ing cheap liquor from Goa to Ma­ha­rash­tra and even dry state Gu­jarat, ac­cord­ing to some state ex­cise of­fi­cials.

To curb this smug­gling, the state ex­cise com­mis­sioner V Radha has said the ex­cise de- part­ment would co- or­di­nate with the KR au­thor­i­ties. For KR, how­ever, putting a lid on this kind of liquor smug­gling is eas­ier said than done.

Speak­ing to dna, of­fi­cials claimed such il­le­gal oper­a­tions were well- oiled now, with des­ig­nated KR trains be­ing used to smug­gle liquor in bulk. Ac­cord­ing to the KR web­site, only 129 Rail­way Pro­tec­tion Force ( RPF) per­son­nel man its 740km route be­tween Roha in Ma­ha­rash­tra and Thokur in Kar­nataka. To make the mat­ter worse, as many as 49 posts are ly­ing va­cant as of now, fur­ther bring­ing down the per­son­nel strength to 80.

The num­ber of trains, how­ever, keeps in­creas­ing. Ev­ery day, KR op­er­ates 42 pairs of mail or ex­press trains, 9 pas­sen­ger trains and 17 freight trains. In ad­di­tion, there is a large num­ber of hol­i­day spe­cials dur­ing fes­ti­vals such as Gan­pati or Christ­mas. This year, KR ran 226 spe­cial trains dur­ing Gan­pati.

The RPF is aware of the prob­lem. Its web- page on the KR web­site stated, “Liquor be­ing cheap­est in the state of Goa due to low ex­cise du­ties, it is il­le­gally trans­ported to neigh­bour­ing states of Ma­ha­rash­tra, Kar­nataka, Ker­ala etc. to avoid state ex­cise du­ties. RPF fre­quently con­duct raids in as­sis­tance with the state ex­cise depart­ment and hand over the seized liquor, along with of­fend­ers, to the state ex­cise de­part­ments con­cerned.”

Goa has a lib­eral ex­cise duty regime and low du­ties. Smug­gling of al­co­hol leads to mas­sive pre­mi­ums for boot­leg­gers, who then sell this booze in Ma­ha­rash­tra or Gu­jarat. It, how- ever, leads to large- scale loss for the Ma­ha­rash­tra state, by way of ex­cise du­ties.

In May, the state ex­cise depart­ment had cracked a case in­volv­ing smug­gling of du­pli­cate liquor from Goa. The liquor was be­ing smug­gled on KR trains. It was the first re­cov­ery made out­side the state. The liquor was later off- loaded at Pan­vel, Va­sai- Vi­rar and Da­hanu in Ma­ha­rash­tra, of­fi­cials said.

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