Customs Installs US-Like System to Check Smuggling

Ashwini Shrivastava/New Delhi
Customs Installs US-Like System to Check Smuggling

Enhancing its measures to check smuggling, the customs department has installed a US-like system to keep a track on suspected passengers.

The Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS), developed by National Informatics Centre, has been put in place by customs officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here, official sources said.

The system acts as electronic database of all passengers, crews and other airline staff entering and exiting from the international airport here, they said.

The APIS automatically red flags suspected passengers on the basis of their movement and other parameters and gives a lead to customs officials for follow up, the sources said.

"There is no human interference in the system. The data generated by the APIS is purely on the basis of information of a person's travel history and his or her antecedents," a source said.

The system is developed close on the lines of the Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) used by Customs and Border Protection officials in the US, said the source.

The APIS system is also capable of handling information like issuance of red corner notice against a wanted individual and other warrants issued by Interpol and law enforcement agencies, sources said.

The system, which is being run as pilot project at the IGIA, is likely to be installed at other international airports across the country soon, they said.

There are about 120 international flights on an average daily to and from the airport and there has been an increase in smuggling of gold at Delhi international airport.

Customs officials at the airport had registered 363 cases of gold smuggling and seized 353 kg of the precious metal during 2013-14. The value of the seized gold is approximately Rs 90 crore, the officials said adding that 123 people were arrested in these cases.

About 20-25 kg of gold was seized in 2012-13, they said.

According to an official estimate, about 1,000-3,000 kg of gold is smuggled into the country every month.

Officials of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), lead agency to check smuggling, had registered 44 cases of smuggling of contraband valuing Rs 209 crore during 2013-14, compared to 36 cases of smuggling of narcotics worth Rs 194 crore in 2012-13.

The Customs Department has already introduced a new declaration form for passengers flying into India.

The 'Indian Customs Declaration Form', which came into effect from March 1, carries additional fields for declaration of dutiable goods for passengers entering into India, according to the Finance Ministry.

Travellers need to declare any prohibited articles, gold jewellery (over free allowance) and gold bullion, among others in the new format.

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