Panaji, June 1 (IANS) Petrol from Goa is being smuggled to neighbouring states like Karnataka and Maharashtra, where it is priced at a premium, and the state police and excise department are taking steps to prevent the racket, an official here said.
The collaboration between the state government agencies has already yielded a result - during a joint raid a few days back they nabbed two Karnataka Police personnel for smuggling 60 litres of petrol from Goa.
"That haul was still 'retail' smuggling. But it was a beginning nevertheless," said a senior police official, on condition of anonymity.
In the raid, Karnataka Police sub-inspector Babu Madhav and police driver Yallappa Madhav of Ramnagar police station - a town in Karnataka close to the Goa border - were arrested while carrying jerrycans full of petrol and an assorted cache of Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).
After the Manohar Parrikar-led Goa government, in implementation of its populist poll manifesto promise, reduced VAT (value added tax) on fuel by almost 11 percent, petrol in Goa is now sold at Rs.61.19 (post last week's hike), as compared to Rs.81.75 in Karnataka and Rs.78.57 in Maharashtra. This makes smuggling of petrol across the state's borders an attractive proposition.
The arrested Karnataka Police personnel were booked under sections 285 of the Indian Penal Code (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) read with section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and section 3 of the Petroleum Act and also under the Excise Act.
The official police jeep they were carrying the contraband cocktail of petrol and liquor was also seized by the authorities here.
"Although the haul of petrol was not huge, the decision to book a case and make an example of the offenders was taken to serve as a deterrent to others who want to smuggle petrol from Goa," the official said.
It was long suspected that with the nearly Rs.10 difference in petrol prices in Goa and the rest of the country, smuggling of fuel would be rampant across the borders of the state.
Those fears are slowly coming true with the recent spike in petrol prices.
The petrol prices in Goa went southwards after the newly elected BJP-led coalition government slashed the VAT from 11 percent to 0.1 percent in the budget for this year.
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