While R22 is allowed to be imported into India, it is strictly controlled and requires a licence. But with demand in the country outstripping supply there are said to be increasing incidences of R22 cylinder shipments being mis-declared or concealed within legitimate shipments of other goods.
According to the Times of India, the shipments were from China and Malaysia to ports in Mumbai, Chennai and Tuticorn.
As a result, R22 has now been added to a Watch list which includes gold, fake Indian currency notes, drugs, cigarettes and red sandalwood.
Indian customs officers have been successful in a number of seizures in recent months.
In January of this year customs officers in Chennai seized 1,200 13kg cylinders of R22 hidden behind crates of calcium powder in a container from China.
Four other cases were reported in 2013, totalling more than 240,000kg of R22. On March 1, 2013, customs seized 182.9 tonnes of R22 stored in five ISO tanks as well as 354 empty disposable cylinders. The goods originated from China and imported by ship through the port of JNPT Nhava Sheva near Mumbai. In July, 1,100 13.6kg cylinders of R22 from China were found hidden between furniture in a shipment seized at the port of Pipavav. In May and June last year, Indian customs seized 1,702 13.6kg cylinders of R22, again imported from China, through the port of JNPT, Nhava Sheva near Mumbai. The undeclared cylinders were hidden amongst the declared goods to avoid detection. Malaysia was the source of 1,504 13.6kg cylinders of R22 seized by Indian customs at the same port in April last year. The cylinders were hidden in two containers marked as containing A4 copier paper.