With India putting strong curbs on gold imports, there has concomitantly been a nearly four-fold rise in cases of gold smuggling, with 148 such instances reported and gold worth about Rs245 crore was seized by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) during 2013-14.
This is sharply up from 40 cases of gold smuggling registered in 2012-13.
The value of gold seized in these cases was about Rs44.80 crore, according to the DRI, which acts as lead agency to check smuggling. The seized gold was being smuggled into the country through various means - hiding it in luggage or through false declaration of imported goods, among others.
Officials of the DRI arrested 464 persons during the last financial year as against 202 in 2012-13 for their involvement in gold smuggling.
Customs officials at Delhi international airport have also 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 Rs90 crore, officials said, adding that 123 people were arrested in these cases.
''There has been a significant increase in cases of gold smuggling. Last year, hardly 20-25 kg of gold was seized here,'' a custom official posted at Indira Gandhi International Airport said.
Finance minister P Chidambaram has been asking Indians to control their passion for gold, and had early this year said about 1,000-3,000 kg of gold is smuggled into the country every month.
In the process, gold smuggling has surpassed cases of smuggling of narcotics, DRI officials said.
The high demand for gold has been troubling the finance ministry, which is trying to control Current Account Deficit (CAD), or the difference between the outflow and inflow of foreign currency.
The CAD had touched a historic high of $88.2 billion or about 4.7 per cent of GDP in 2012-13 and was mainly attributed to high imports of petroleum products and gold.