New Delhi: In the wake of alleged duty evasion by corporate houses while importing aircraft, the Customs department and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have joined hands to end the illegal practice which resulted in loss of crores of rupees to the exchequer.
“The DGCA has been cooperating with the Customs department in all fronts. We are working together to completely end the illegal practice,” a senior Finance Ministry official said.
According to the Customs department, the Corporate houses import aircraft under the Non-Schedule Operator Permit (NSOP), which attract zero per cent duty, but allegedly use the planes for personal purposes.
The scam first came to light with the seizure of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani’s Airbus 319 in early July for alleged duty evasion of over Rs57 crore.
Later, several aircraft belonging to top corporate houses including group companies of Anil Ambani, TATA, GMR, Usha Martin Group were found to have been imported under NSOP permit but allegedly used for personal trips.
Finance Ministry sources said the Customs department had sought cooperation and help from the DGCA to understand and study how the scam flourished right under the regulator’s nose.
Sources in the DGCA, which is the regulatory authority in the aviation sector, said that it had got a whiff of the scam in April and had even written a letter to the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
In the letter written by Deputy Director General of Civil Aviation Charan Das on 24 April to Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation Arun Mishra, the authority had raised the issue of significant increase in the number of applications received for issue of NSOP — both in the passenger and in charter category.