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
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.