Vadodara: The central excise department raided an illegal ‘gutkha’ manufacturing unit in Chhota Udepur and unearthed excise evasion worth about Rs 25 to Rs 30 crore. The unit was being run from a small house in Kumhani village near Madhya Pradesh border for last few years. The excise officials had received a tip off following which they conducted a joint operation with the local police on Thursday.

The officials found 13 machines that were used for packaging the gutkha along with big stock of gutkha and empty sachets. “The unit was being run from a piece of land that was located in forest region. During the raid, we found that the unit was doing clandestine production of gutkha that is illegal in Gujarat. We suspect that tobacco was also added to the gutkha made there. Even the units making non-tobacco gutkha need to be registered,” said an excise official.

The official added that duplicate gutkha of Goa and Vimal brand was being made at the unit that also made its own two brands. “They used to bring raw material from different places and prepare the gutkha there. It was then routed out of the state through different roads. We found eight persons including a supervisor working at the unit. They all were questioned after the raid,” the official said. The employees revealed that they were from Uttar Pradesh and the unit’s owner too is from Kanpur.

Sources in the excise department said that locals of the village pelted stones at the raiding team despite the police security. “We have booked the employees under the Central Excise Act and we will track down owner too,” an excise official added.

When contacted, Chhota Udepur superintendent of police, P C Baranda said, “The unit was located in interiors of the forest area and hence we had provided police security to the excise officials. Several packets of duplicate gutkha were seized from the spot apart from the machines. Statements of the employees present in the unit were taken and FIR will be registered by the excise officials after they complete their inquiry.”

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