Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service
Amritsar, April 26. Notwithstanding traders’ protest over “excessive handling charges”, the new Integrated Check Post (ICP) has given a major boost to trade between India and Pakistan. The volume of trade has almost doubled since April 13 when the ICP was inaugurated.
Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) Manager at the ICP Rameshwar says the number of trucks coming from and crossing over to Pakistan has increased. “As far as imports are concerned, the highest we have recorded so far is 192 trucks from Pakistan in a single day. Similarly, talking about exports, the highest number of Indian trucks crossing over to Pakistan has been 175.” This is almost double the number of trucks which used to enter India and cross over to Pakistan via the old check post. On an average, 100-150 trucks arrive from Pakistan daily, though the exports have declined over the past couple of days it being a lean season.
Apart from longer trade timings (7 am to 7 pm), better infrastructure has contributed to the increase in the trade volume. At present, India is primarily exporting tomato and soyabean to Pakistan via the Attari-Wagah land route while the import list comprises cement, coal, gypsum, dry fruit, dates, soda ash and chemicals. In the import list, cement and coal are the new additions.
Earlier, traders would import cement through a goods train from Pakistan as the old check post at Attari lacked adequate infrastructure to facilitate its import through road.
Randeep Singh, a leading cement importer, said the ICP would certainly help boost cement imports from Pakistan. “Through the Attari ICP, we can get cement within a week while the rail route took a couple of months,” he said.
Now, trucks carrying goods are parked inside the ICP premises.This has come as a major respite for tourists who throng the border every evening for The Retreat.
The process of computerisation and laying of communication lines at the ICP is underway and will take some time. Similarly, banking facilities are yet to take shape. Traders and porters lament that the labour charges have reduced even though the volume of trade has increased. “We are being paid Rs 1,600 per truckload of tomatoes as against Rs 2,070 paid earlier,” a porter said.
Touching new heights
The highest number of trucks entering into India from Pakistan in a day after the inauguration on the new ICP is 192 while the maximum count of trucks that crossed over to Pakistan stands at 175
This is almost double the number of trucks which used to enter India and cross over to Pakistan via the old check post
On an average, 100-150 trucks arrive from Pakistan daily, though the exports have declined over the past couple of days due to lean season
Apart from longer trade timings (7 am to 7 pm), better infrastructure has contributed to an increase in the trade volume
Traders to halt trade from today
Upset over the “excessive handling charges” at the ICP, the traders today held a meeting under the banner of Confederation of International Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CICCI) and decided to halt the entire bilateral trade between India and Pakistan via Attari-Wagah land route from Friday onwards.