The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized nearly 3,000 kg of heroin from Gujarat’s Mundra port on 15 September. It is the largest consignment by the DRI so far, in fact it is stated to be the single largest seizure of heroin in India till now and even one of the biggest across the globe. DRI is an enforcement agency under the Union Finance Ministry.
A shipment of almost 2,988.21 kg heroine to be worth ?21,000 crore has been seized at Mundra port in Kutch district of Gujarat. It was carried in two shipping containers on September 16 at the Mundra port, which is owned by the Adani group. The international street value of the seized narcotics will be about Rs 7 crore per kg. One container had 1999.57 kg heroin, while the other had 988.64 kg.
The consignment had been imported by a Vijaywada-based company from the Bandar Abbas Port of Iran and the heroin was scheduled to be taken to Delhi. The importer company - the Aashi Trading Company, is alleged to be run by M Sudhakar and his wife G Durga Purna Vaishali. The firm had brought in the consignment from Iran by declaring that the containers had “semi-processed talc material from Afghanistan”. The couple was presented before the special court for NDPS (Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985) cases in Bhuj. The court has ordered for 10 days custody of the couple to DRI. M. Sudhakar and his wife were residing in Chennai since few years. They both have been arrested after the seizure of the shipment. Role of some people from Afghanistan is also in the cross hairs. DRI is currently scanning the case and moving forward under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
Investigating agencies are on high alert and raids are being conducted on various suspicious locations of many states – Chennai, Gujarat, Mumbai and Delhi also.
A source of DRI said - “This is the first heroin shipment caught in Mundra port. In the past year, the DRI has seized two large consignments of heroin at Navi Mumbai’s Nhava Sheva port — one last year, weighing 193 kg and the other seized this year in July, which weighed over 200 kg. But the one seized at Mundra is the largest consignment caught by DRI so far,”
Meanwhile, the opposition condemned the Modi government over the large consignments of narcotics being seized at the Adani-owned port. Hitting out at the government on the narcotics catch, Karnataka Congress member, Srivatsa Y.B. tweeted: “In Modi’s India, 59 grams of Weed > 3000 kgs of Heroin. Govt used ED/CBI/NCB & leaked WhatsApp chats of Bolly Actresses. But even after World’s Biggest Heroin Seizure at Adani’s Mundra Port, there is pin-drop silence. Modi went after Rhea when Pablo Escobars are booming in India.”
Why is Mundra port significant?
Mundra port is a deep-water, all-weather, berthing on arrival port in the Gulf of Kutch. It is India’s largest private commercial port and it hosts the world’s largest coal import terminal. So seizure of cargo at this port is very significant because this is a high security port.
What is ASPEZ?
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited is the largest private multi-port operator in India. ASPEZ is a large network of ports with India’s largest SEZ at Mundra. It has presence in 12 locations. Mundra port, Krishnapatnam port, Hazira port, Dhamra port, Dahej port, Vizag terminal, Mormugao terminal, Vizhinjam port, Kattupalli port, Ennore terminal and Tuna terminal. Also Dighi port is the latest acquisition of Adani group which is said to be the alternative of JNPT, Navi Mumbai.
What is SEZ?
An SEZ (Special Economic Zone) is a territory within a country that is typically duty- free and has different business and commercial laws chiefly to encourage investment and create employment.
SEZ Act was passed in 2005 and came into force in 2006. It was operational from 2000 to 2006 under Foreign Trade Policy. Before SEZs, EPZs (Export Processing Zone) were operationalized in India. Presently, 379 SEZs are notified, out of which 265 are operational. The ‘Board of Approval’ is the apex body and is headed by the Secretary, Department of Commerce. SEZs are created also to better administer these areas, thereby increasing the ease of doing business. They are exempted from various taxes like income tax, minimum alternate tax, etc. the external commercial borrowing by SEZ units up to USD 500 million in a year without any maturity restriction through banking channels. It also facilitates single window clearance for Central and State level approvals.
What is the reaction of Adani group?
The port is run by Adani Ports and SEZ (APSEZ), the ports business under the Gautam Adani-run conglomerate. Adani group clarified in a statement that-
“The law empowers the Government of India's competent authorities such as the Customs and the DRI to open, examine and seize unlawful cargo. No port operator across the country can examine a container. Their role is limited to running the port."
“We sincerely hope that this statement will put to rest the motivated, malicious and false propaganda being run on social media against the Adani Group. APSEZ is a port operator providing services to shipping lines. We have no policing authority over the containers or the millions of tonnes of cargo that pass through the terminals in Mundra or any of our ports," it further added.