BAFRA imposes around Nu 2mn fine for smuggling banned vegetables

The Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) seized banned vegetables and imposed a fine of around Nu 19.46mn yesterday.

BAFRA officials, acting upon tip off, seized five vehicles carrying chilies, beans and cauliflowers from the Rinchending checkpoint. They seized 843kgs of chilies, 283kgs of beans and 245kgs of cauliflowers. While two DCMs were heading for Paro, one each was destined for Punakha, Thimphu and Wangdue.

  BAFRA officials had been informed about the consignment and they had deputed staffs at the checkpoint when the banned vegetables were seized from the vehicles.

According to the officials, initially, the consignments were supposed to travel on Thursday. They have waited and have moved them early yesterday morning. Our staffs have waited for the whole night at the checkpoint. However, the vehicles didn’t turn up. Later, police intercepted and informed them when the first consignment had reached.

Meanwhile, the vegetables were concealed with other vegetables and sealed. They were directly packed and imported from Falakata in India.

BAFRA’s Officer In-charge Phuentsho said they frequently intercept such consignments and penalize them. “We check suspicious vehicles and act upon tip off,” he added. 

According to BAFRA, the penalty for smuggling banned vegetables is ten times the prescribed rate of the vegetables seized.

Phuentsho said their officials and staffs have been keeping regular check on the movement of imported vegetables and that they deploy most of their inspectors during routine checking along with seven laborers once a week.

“We will continue to be vigilant on the movement of banned vegetables and take action on the imposters,” Phuentsho said, adding that the staffs at the main gate in Phuentsholing also check the vehicles for such goods entering the country.

However, with limited space and often resulting in traffic congestion, the agency has not been able to carry out frequent inspection. “Once the dry port is complete, then we will have better facilities and resources for routine check at the main entry point,” Phuentsho said.

Meanwhile, BAFRA banned the import of chilies, beans and cauliflower from June 2016 after discovering high content of pesticides in these vegetables.

Krishna Ghalley from Thimphu