Betel nut traders fox customs

Khajura, October 24:

Ingenious traders in Banke district know how to cut corners when it comes to beating the customs heat. They have set up three to four retail outlets in Jamunah of India just across the border and ferry betel nuts (Areca catechu) there everyday.

Each trader takes two to three sacks of betel nuts claiming to sell these there. They don’t pay taxes though they cart the betel nuts to India via the regular customs point. Locals said the customs officials also do not bother to check them though betel nut export is said to be illegal.

The traders take nearly 10,000 kg of betel nuts daily on rickshaws to Jamunah. A trader said betel nut from other countries comes to Nepal and this in turn is exported to India.

Nepalgunj customs chief Purnananda Bhatta said when officials check, traders show VAT bills and claim they are taking the betel nut to their branch shops for retail sale in Jamunah.