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The fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka have been at logger heads for the last three decades over sharing the catches. But some of them from both sides have become part of a syndicate of late smuggling turmeric the island nation facing chronic shortage.

The fishermen from the two countries meet at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and exchange hundreds of kilogrammes of turmeric packed in gunny bags for gold,” local media reports quoting officials said.

The coastal security group which is patrolling the seas used to catch them on the basis of mobile telephone calls exchanged among fishermen but the fishermen are wise after being caught. They no longer use mobile phones during their outings to sea, these days.

The latest trend is they are in their boats at the assigned location

The latest trend is they are in their boats at the assigned location near the IMBL for days under the pretext of fishing until they meet their buyers. This arrangement makes it difficult to track the smugglers.

Turmeric is being smuggled mainly via four routes — from Velankanni, Kodiyakarai and Vedaranyam to Point Pedro in the Jaffna District; from Sethubavarchatram in Thanjavur District to Jaffna; Trespuram in Thoothukudi to Mannar, Kilinochchi and Puttalam and from Kannirajapuram, Vedhalai and Dhanushkodi in Ramanathapuram to Mannar, Kilinochchi and Puttalam.

The Coastal Security Group has sounded an alert in the south coastal districts of Tamil Nadu adjoining Sri lanka against incidents of turmeric smuggling. The turmeric is brought to the coastal districts in small consignments from various districts, including Erode. They are allegedly aggregated in various coastal towns and handed over to smugglers from Sri Lanka.

The price of turmeric has risen to Rs 4,000 to 5,000. Sri lankan Rupee per kilo

The price of a kilogramme of turmeric before the import ban was Rs 325 with an import tax of Rs 102 which worked out to about 430 sri lankan rupee. The price has risen to Rs 4,000 to 5,000. Sri lankan Rupee per kilo, an open invitation to smuggling from Tamil Nadu market. Erode Region in West Tamil Nadu is one of the major producers of Turmeric in India.

The purpose behind the ban was to strengthen the Sri Lankan economy by augmenting domestic production, all the while helping farmers come out of the debt trap. However, for a country producing only 2,000 tonnes of turmeric a year against a national demand of 7,000 tonnes, the shortfall was huge. 

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