There has been an unprecedented five-time jump in cases of gold smuggling in 2014-15 over 2012-13 during which yellow metal worth Rs 1,120 crore was seized, notwithstanding easing of curbs on its import.
What is worrying revenue intelligence officials is, the cases of the smuggling have not come down despite the legal import of gold into the country increasing significantly during the same period.
A total of 4,400 cases of gold smuggling have been registered in the country during 2014-15. About 4,480 kg (4.48 metric tonnes) of the precious metal valued at about Rs 1,120 crore was seized in these cases, a senior official in Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) said.
As many as 252 people were also arrested in the last financial year, he said.
There were 870 cases of gold smuggling registered during 2012-13, five times less than those filed in 2014-15. About 400 kg of gold valued at about Rs 100 crore was seized in these cases, the official said.
He added 2,700 such cases were registered in 2013-14 in which 2,760 kg (2.76 metric tonnes) of gold, worth about Rs 690 crore was seized.
There has been a rise in legal import of gold too during the past two years owing to growing domestic demands. During 2014-15, 1,332 metric tonnes (13.32 lakh kgs) of gold was imported in the country. The value of the import was Rs 2.67 lakh crore, the official said.
In 2013-14, 616 metric tonnes (6.16 lakh kgs) of gold worth Rs 1.55 lakh crore was imported, he said.
Interestingly, about 169 metric tonnes (1.69 lakh kgs) of gold has been imported between April and June 10 this year alone. The value of the import was Rs 38,608 crore, the official said.
DRI officials feel the demand will push further import of gold into the country during the fiscal.
"There is still a big demand-supply gap as far as people's love for gold is concerned which might give rise to higher import of gold," he said.
They suspect rise in gold smuggling too. "There is a huge margin in smuggling. That is why people do it on such a large scale. One can make about Rs 1.5 lakh in smuggling a kilogram of gold," the official said.