India's gold imports hit an 18-month high of 100 tonnes in January

India's gold imports in January rose to an 18-month high of 100 tonnes, up 23 per cent from a year ago and 30 per cent above the average monthly imports for last year, despite government curbs on gold imports.

The spike in imports was due to traders snapping up supplies ahead of a hike in duty by the government struggling to rein in its import bill, head of industry body Bombay Bullion Association said.

"So many people imported and dumped gold after rumours from the first week of January of an import duty hike. People waited for the duty to increase and earn more profits," said Mohit Kamboj, president of the Bombay Bullion Association.

India, the world's top importer of gold, blames soaring imports of oil and gold for much of the country's current account deficit.

India imported a total of 860 tonnes of gold in 2012, which makes for average monthly imports of around a little over 71 tonnes.

The government on 21 January raised the import duty on gold to 6 per cent from 4 per cent in a bid to rein in imports after the country's current account deficit hit a record 5.4 per cent of gross domestic product in July-September.