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Spurt in unclaimed baggage numbers as customs suspends courier licence
December, 13th 2012

With the Central Excise and Customs suspending all custom house agent (courier) licences at the Trivandrum International Airport, citing security reasons, there has been a sudden spurt in the number of unaccompanied baggage arriving at the airport remaining unclaimed, a senior customs official said.

"In the last 10 days, 260 passengers collected their unaccompanied baggage that were declared bona fide -- luggage brought by the owners -- by the customs. However, 150 baggage claims are yet to be collected as the customs have asked the passengers to identify their stuff. We sent 50 summons by speed post and no one has come forward to claim their luggage as they are possibly afraid of being questioned. It is likely that they would not know the contents in the bags," the official said. Meanwhile, local agents have been holding a dharna in front of the cargo complex demanding that the baggage be released to them. Around 200 tonnes of unaccompanied baggage (UB) is yet to be cleared from the UB centre.

"The unaccompanied baggage facility is being exploited by unscrupulous elements for importing goods that would be later sold in the market. So, a bona fide verification of passengers was carried out and some passengers against whose names they were brought in refused to show up," said customs and excise additional commissioner G Ravindranath.As per rules, only used household and personal articles can be flown in as unaccompanied baggage by people who have been residing aboard.

They are required to bring in the luggage within one month of their arrival in India. "Normally, the unaccompanied baggage may reach India up to two months before the arrival of the passenger. As the contents are exempted from duty, local agents have begun using this channel to import brand new goods like perfume, electronics items and food items such as chocolates so as to avoid paying tax," said the official.

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