2 years on, roadblocks continue to hit LoC trade
UMER MAQBOOL DAR
Srinagar, Oct 20: Even as it completed its two-year run on Wednesday, the cross-LoC trade continues to be marred by the multiple problems; central and state governments’ assurances to the contrary notwithstanding.
According to stake holders, the trade across LoC has failed to become a smooth business activity for them due to the manifold hiccups making its run patchy.
The trade was thrown open on Jhelum Valley route between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad on October 21, 2008 after a gap of 61 years. However, due to infrastructural and logistic deficiencies the trade, according to traders here, has been restricted to mere symbolism.
“For the past two years since the trade has started, both the central as well as the state governments have done nothing substantial to make it a real trade,” the traders said.
“If this trade runs till date, it is only because there is a strong desire and will among the people from both sides across the LoC to continue with it irrespective of getting any gains out of it,” said Shakeel Qalandar, president Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir.
“It is blind trade as we don’t know whom we are sending our consignments or whose goods we are getting,” he added.
However, there is a silver lining. Despite hiccups the trade conducted in the past two years across the LoC has touched Rs 300 crore mark.
According to figures goods worth Rs 132.4273 crore (INR) have been exported for the given period and Rs 192.6671 crore (Pakistan currency) have been imported. 21 tradable commodities are exchanged between both sides on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Traders pointed that in absence of cash payment there is a lot of problem in the trade. “The state government has umpteenth times assured us of providing communication link by installing telephones with ISD facilities at trade facilitation centres, but their promises has proved hoax,” they said.
“We are entirely dependent on call from traders of Pakistan administered Kashmir as we cannot make call from here due to one side ban,” traders told Greater Kashmir.
The sufficient infrastructure is not in place, as trade is running from temporary TFC and cafeteria of tourism department.
“We have been shouting from day one of the trade that requisite infrastructure and facilities should be put in place. No businessman is involved and only local people having relationship across LOC are sustaining the trade through primitive barter system,” said Nazir Ahmed Dar, president Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and industry.
He said that it could become “real trade” if both governments ensure facilities like banking, communication and trade permits to people involved in it.
“We hadn’t visualised this kind of trade when heads of both countries made announcement of it’s commence two years ago and its present state of affairs seems joke in name of trade,” he told Greater Kashmir.
The United States Initiative for Peace, a global think-tank in its special report on Cross-LoC trade in Kashmir said: “If the items to be traded and infrastructure to move them are hardware, then marketing, banking and communication are the software.”
It suggested that legal provisions should be made to allow marketing companies from both sides to operate across the LoC. “As a start, exporters from one part could be allowed to hire local marketing companies from other side,” it said.
When contacted, minister for industries and commerce, Surjeet Singh Salathia said that they have installed telephone facility for traders and released money for infrastructure.
“Some things, like banking, are not in our hands and it is for both countries to decide on them. We are raising issues of traders with ministry of home affairs in routine meetings,” he said
Lastupdate on : Wed, 20 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 20 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 21 Oct 2010 00:00:00 IST
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UMER MAQBOOL DAR
Srinagar, Oct 20: Even as it completed its two-year run on Wednesday, the cross-LoC trade continues to be marred by the multiple problems; central and state governments’ assurances to the contrary notwithstanding More