The Tiruchirappalli Customs (Preventive) Zone is a part of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. The field offices of this Zone deal with the administration and enforcement of the Customs Act, 1962, the Rules and Regulations made thereunder and other allied Acts in the matter of collection of Customs duty and Prevention of Smuggling.
This Customs (Preventive) Zone was formed in the year 2002 by the re-organisation of the erstwhile Customs (Preventive) Zone having headquarters at Chennai (vide Notification No.14/2002-Customs(N.T.) dated 07.03.2002) and subsequently, the Zonal headquarters was shifted to Tiruchirapalli in the year 2013 (vide Notification No.54/2012-Customs(N.T.) dated 29.06.2012).
Presently, Tiruchirppalli Customs (Preventive) Zone is headed by Principal Chief Commissioner of Customs and it has two Customs Commissionerates under its jurisdiction, each headed by a Commissioner viz. the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Tiruchirappalli and the Commissionerate at the Custom House, Tuticorin.
Customs & Central Excise Collectorate, Trichy was formed at Trichy in 1983 by carving out the jurisdiction of the erstwhile Collectorates of Customs & Central Excise, Madurai and Madras. During 1997, a separate Commissionerate of Customs was formed at Trichy having jurisdiction over the whole state of Tamil Nadu excluding Chennai city. Further, the Trichy Customs Commissionerate was bifurcated into two Commissionerates namely (1) Trichy Customs Preventive Commissionerate and (2) Tuticorin Customs Commissionerate during November 2002. Subsequently, during March 2005, in order to enhance functional efficiency in preventive operations and exercise effective administrative control, re-organisation and revamping of Trichy Customs Commissionerate was carried out by way of abolishing certain formations and tagging on certain other formations to the nearest formation.
Trichy Customs Preventive Commissionerate is a hinterland Customs Commissionerate having mainly preventive and anti-smuggling functions in the entire state of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Pondicherry, except the areas that come under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Customs, Seaport, Chennai and Customs Airport, Chennai and Tuticorin Customs Commissionerate(CH). The jurisdiction starts from Northern Chennai and extends upto the Kerala border in the southwest near Colachel on the Arabian Sea. The total coastline is about 950 Kms long.
There are 5 Customs Divisions and 21 preventive field formations (Customs Preventive Units). Most of the formations are situated along the coast of Tamil Nadu except Karur, Coimbatore and Madurai. All are intended for detecting Commercial Fraud cases to unearth duty evasions and other violations of Customs Act / Foreign Trade Policy.
Trichy Customs Preventive Commissionerate is primarily a preventive Commissionerate for curbing smuggling activites. There are also minor ports at Cuddalore, Pondicherry, Karaikkal and Nagapattinam and ICDs at Karur, Pondicherry, Chettipalayam, Veerapandi, Thudiyalur, Irugur, Hosur, Madurai and Arakkonam and a few Public/Private/Special bonded warehouses. There are Customs International Airports at Trichy, Madurai and Coimbatore.
Tuticorin is one of the Port City of South India, situated 600 kms south west of Chennai and 135 kms from Madurai in the State of Tamilnadu. Tuticorin rose to eminence due to a well-guarded and natural harbour in the 15th Century. The Portuguese were the first to arrive in 1532. The peaceful and lucrative trade enjoyed by the Portuguese evoked the jealousy of the Dutch. After abortive attempts, the Dutch finally captured Tuticorin in 1649 and made it the Headquarters of the "Madura Coast". Hostilities between the Dutch and the English forces during the 18th century took a heavy toll on this harbour town. The Dutch presence was subsequently subdued there after and in 1825, the English domination was established.
In the early years of the 19th century, the East India Company made rapid progress in developing the harbour. The cotton-rich hinterland was quickly linked by newly laid roads to facilitate exports of cotton through Tuticorin to England when the supply of cotton stopped there, due to the American Civil War. Railway linkage was given in 1878 with Maniyachi. After the visit of the Duke of Birmingham to Tuticorin in 1877, the harbour development activities flourished with the strengthening of the pier, reclamation of land to provide approaches to a new jetty and linking of the jetty with the railway. In 1888, the first cotton mill was established by A & F Harvey Company of England.
Tuticorin Customs: A Century-Old Saga: Tuticorin Customs has a hoary past dating back to the year 1898. The Custom House was built in 1901 on the Beach Road, Opposite to the present Old Port. At that time, the economic activity of this port was confined only to cater the Indo-Sri Lankan trade, carried on through country boats, also known as 'thonies'
The Custom House earlier headed by a Superintendent, was upgraded as an Assistant collector's Unit in 1979. Further the Custom House was headed by Deputy Collector since 1992. It was in 1993 that the present Custom House was constructed in the New Harbour Estate and was headed by an Additional Collector, who reported to the Collector of Customs at Tiruchirapalli. Due to the rapid development of imports and exports at this port, a full-fledged Customs Commissionerate, headed by a Commissioner of Customs was formed on 1st November, 2002.
On July 11, 1974, the newly constructed Tuticorin Port was declared as 10th major port. On 1st April 1979, the Tuticorin minor port and the newly constructed Tuticorin major port were merged and the Tuticorin Port Trust was constituted under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963. Tuticorin Port is an all weather Port, well sheltered from the fury of storms and cyclonic winds and strategically situated on the international Sea route. It has nine berths apart from coal and Oil jetties.
Tuticorin Port is now well equipped with a good infrastructure and has attracted many large industries like M/s. Sterlite Industries, SPIC, DCW etc., to set up their units in and around Tuticorin. The huge volume of exports from the Garment industry from Tirupur, Erode, Karur to Europe and U.S through Tuticorin is proof of its importance in the international trade. Raw cashew is imported for processing in factories located in Kollam in neighboring Kerala. Huge quantities of Timber Logs are imported for use of several saw mills in nearby areas. Tuticorin is thus emerging as a catalyst for regional development.
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