The authorities at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust recently seized 371 tonnes of areca nuts being smuggled. The nuts were estimated to be worth around ₹32.31crores in what is being called one of the biggest seizures of smuggled areca nuts. The containers were seized by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence or DRI. This raises the question: Why are areca nuts being smuggled in the first place? Well, here’s the answer.
Why Are Areca Nuts Smuggled?
Areca nuts or betel nuts, are widely used in India. However, to protect the domestic industry, a tariff of $10,379 per metric tonne is levied on the nuts that are imported, as per an article recently published by the Hindustan Times. This is 110 per cent of the value.
Hence, to evade this exorbitant tax, the smuggling of Areca nuts is commonly carried out. In a press release dated February 6, the DRI seized Areca nuts worth ₹8.61 crores at the Chennai Airport. The Areca nuts seized at JNPT would have incurred a Customs duty of ₹36 crores.
There were a total of 14 containers which were headed to the ICD. ICD is the Inland Container Depot situated in Pune’s Talegaon. The article said that the importer wrongly-declared them as calcium nitrate in a bid to evade the tax.
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Consumption Of Betel Nuts In India
The areca nuts were seized from JNPT on August 31, 2023. In India, betel nuts, also known as betel nuts or supari, are widely consumed for their alleged mild psychostimulant effect. It is combined with slaked lime, spices and even tobacco.
It even holds significant cultural value. In Hinduism as well as Buddhism, betel nuts are thought to be holy. In some cultural practices, if a deity is to be worshipped but the worshippers do not have an idol, they may perform the ritual on the betel nut.
However, consumption of these nuts is thought to be harmful to one’s health and should be avoided.
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