Great Indian condom trick: Faking govt issue as imported


The supplies leaving the government’s Hindustan Latex Limited (HLL) plants are spirited away by operatives to private latex factories, where they are put in glossy, erotic covers, rebranded, and sent to vendors in Jaipur, Indore, Ranchi and other faraway places, investigations by a team of PTI correspondents have revealed.
The head of a social marketing organisation (SMO) in Delhi shows how the repackaging is done. With his thumb he pushes a condom out of the sealed Nirodh strip and into a new foil open at one end. He does not touch the condom; just uses the condom lubricant to aid the transfer.

“There are well-trained hands in the factories,” he explains. “In factories where machines are used, almost one lakh pieces can be transferred in a day.”
Down in the bazaars, Rakesh Rathore (name changed), an insider, bares the proof of trade. At a non-descript shop in Jaipur, he picks a label called Sweet War that bears the company name, Tricon Impex, but has no address. He rolls back the condom from it to show the HLL code, H9F, printed near the rim opening.

“It is of recent stock,” Rakesh explains, drawing a nod from the shopkeeper. “H stands for HLL, 9 for the year and F for Free supply. The coding system came into force in 2006. Until then the operatives were having a free run, knowing that no one could prove the source and provenance of the condoms once they had been repackaged.

HLL Chairman M Ayyappan concedes condoms are being diverted, but claims the leak is not from the HLL end. The HLL is currently the sole supplier of free-issue condoms for the government.

According to an SMO in Delhi:  “Just in Uttar Pradesh, I estimate the theft of 30 million condoms a year. Surely a fraud of that size cannot be happening without a HLL hand in it.”

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