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JNPT Custom House Faces Allegations of Rampant Corruption

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Importers Bear the Brunt, find themselves helpless and financially strained, while corrupt officials reportedly amass illicit wealth.

Mumbai : The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) Custom House, once heralded as a beacon of India’s commitment to ease of doing business, is now under scrutiny for alleged widespread corruption. Officials within the facility are accused of demanding substantial bribes, reaching lakhs of rupees, from importers. This corruption has led to cargo clearance delays, inflicting significant financial losses on businesses.

Sources reveal that numerous containers belonging to importers have been stranded in the Container Freight Station (CFS) yard since before Diwali, resulting in daily losses amounting to crores of rupees. The delays are attributed to corrupt officials misinterpreting Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) provisions and demanding hefty bribes to expedite the clearance process.

Although the steel lobby recently obtained clarification from the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Delhi, offering some relief, a multitude of containers still navigate bureaucratic obstacles. Importers find themselves grappling with both non-clearance issues and accumulating penalty charges due to delays.

It is being whispered that Group 5 Assistant Commissioner emerges prominently among the officers allegedly involved in corrupt practices. Sources claim that he demands a bribe of Rs 2 lakh per shipment, leaving importers with little recourse but to comply.

It is being alleged by the sources that he is involved in direct money collection for the commissioner. He is further accused of openly extorting money from Custom House Agents, instilling fear through threats and intimidation, placing an additional burden on intermediaries in the import process.

In the month of July this year the Chief Commissioner of Customs had initiated an online Nhava-Sheva Grievance Redressal Portal “e-SAMADHAAN”. However the victims states that utilising of such platform will bring us in forefront resulting in becoming an enemy to the Customs.

The pervasive corruption at JNPT Custom House contradicts the government’s objectives of facilitating ease of doing business in India. Importers find themselves helpless and financially strained, while corrupt officials reportedly amass illicit wealth.

Immediate action is imperative to investigate these allegations and hold the perpetrators accountable. JNPT Custom House must restore transparency and accountability to ensure a fair and corruption-free environment for the import-export trade.

Recent Corruption Incidents at JNPT Custom House (2017-2023):

– 2017: JNPT Deputy Superintendent of Customs Kuldip Singh arrested by the CBI for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 20 lakh from an importer to clear a consignment of steel.

– 2018: JNPT Additional Commissioner of Customs S K Agrawal faces a CBI case for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 3 lakh from an importer to clear a consignment of machinery.

– 2019: Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) reports Rs 1,210 crore losses at JNPT due to irregularities in procurement.

– 2020: Vigilance Commission receives 25 corruption complaints against JNPT officials.

– 2021: JNPT Superintendent of Customs Nitish Kumar arrested by the CBI for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 10 lakh from an importer to clear a consignment of chemicals.

– 2022: CAG reports Rs 1,500 crore losses at JNPT due to irregularities in cargo handling.

– 2023: CBI initiates corruption cases against six Customs superintendents, alleging collusion with a clearing agent to exploit a government scheme for fraudulent duty-free imports.

These facts and figures paint a disturbing picture of corruption in JNPT. The repeated allegations of bribery and irregularities suggest that there is a deep-rooted problem of corruption within the organization. The authorities must take serious action to address this issue and restore public trust in JNPT. Additionally, nationwide corruption challenges must be addressed to foster transparency and accountability.

Here are some additional facts and figures about corruption in India as a whole:

According to Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perception Index, India is ranked 107th out of 180 countries, indicating a high level of perceived corruption.

The World Bank estimates that India loses around 3% of its GDP to corruption each year.

A 2018 survey by Transparency International India found that 38% of Indians had paid a bribe in the past year to access public services.

Corruption is a major problem in India and it has a significant impact on the country’s economy and society. It can lead to a decline in investment, a decrease in public services, and an increase in poverty. The government must take strong action to address corruption and create a more transparent and accountable system.

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