Petrol smuggling via tankers in attempt to bypass customs

Published On: September 24, 2023 11:30 AM NPT By: Upendra Yadav

BARA, Sept 24: Allegations of customs evasion in the transportation of petrol from India to Nepal have surfaced, with a recent incident shedding light on the issue. A case of customs evasion was uncovered involving a tanker carrying petrol from the Indian Oil Corporation's (IOC) Barauni refinery to the Nepal Oil Corporation's (NOC) Amlekhganj depot.

The Birgunj Customs Office took control of the tanker after it attempted to evade customs duties by declaring less fuel than it actually carried. On September 15, a tanker with the registration number Na 4 Kha 3156, en route from the Amlekhgunj depot to transport 20,000 liters of petrol from Barauni, India, was caught trying to pass off an additional 1,797 liters of petrol beyond the declared quantity at the Birgunj customs checkpoint.

A customs duty of Rs 2.52 is imposed on every liter of petrol imported from India into Nepal. Ram Chandra Dhakal, information officer of Birgunj Customs Office, revealed that the attempt was made to evade customs duty amounting to Rs 4,528 by underreporting the quantity of petrol in the seized tanker.

When questioned about the discrepancy in the quantity of petrol, the tanker's driver, Jay Lal Das Tatwa, who was transporting 21,794 liters of petrol from India through Birgunj Customs, claimed that he had only loaded 20,000 liters of petrol in the tanker. Suspecting that there might be more petrol in the tanker than stated by the driver, the authorities took control of the vehicle and conducted a weight verification.

Following the seizure of the tanker and the driver, they were sent to the Madhesh regional office in Amlekhgunj depot for further inspection. Subsequently, it was confirmed that there was indeed more petrol in the tanker than what had been declared. The customs authorities have initiated legal proceedings against both the tanker and the driver.

Dhakal revealed that after receiving information about potential petrol smuggling in tankers from India, inspections were conducted on each tanker, resulting in the discovery of smuggled petrol in several instances. Lalit Upadhyaya, Head of the Madhesh Regional Office in Amlekhgunj, reported that during an inspection at the Amlekhgunj depot, the tanker seized by Birgunj Customs Office for carrying excess petrol was found to have 1,797 liters more than declared.

Upadhyaya explained that due to the lower petrol prices in Indian markets near the Nepal border, tanker drivers traveling to Barauni attempted to bring the excess petrol back to Nepal to sell it at a higher rate.

Although this particular tanker (Na 4Kha 3156) was implicated in petrol smuggling, it has been suspended from operation for an initial period of three months to curb fuel transportation irregularities. Chief Upadhyaya emphasized that the contract for transporting petrol using this tanker will be canceled to prevent such incidents from recurring. Customs Information Officer Dhakal also mentioned that the driver of the tanker, Tatwa, who was arrested on the charge of petrol smuggling, was released on a bail of more than Rs 300,000.

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