"The country has already imported 23.2 tonnes of gold in the first fortnight of this month. Total shipments at the end of the month could reach 35-40 tonnes," a senior official at MMTC Pamp said.
    
The imports could see further increase during the wedding season, which begins in March, the official added.

MMTC Pamp is a joint venture between state-run MMTC and Switzerland's PAMP.

In January, imports rose marginally to 36 tonnes from 31 tonnes in the same month of corresponding year.

Gold shipments have been steadily rising after the Reserve Bank in November 2014 scrapped the 80:20 rule, under which it was mandatory for traders to export 20 percent of the import.

The RBI has been easing import curbs on gold since November 2014.

Also, on February 18, the central bank lifted ban on import of gold coins and medallions and allowed banks to lend gold on loan to jewellers.

Ahead of the Budget, the industry is expecting a cut in import duty from the existing 10 percent.

India, the world's largest consumer of gold, imports around 800-900 tonnes of gold annually.

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