Despite Snowfall LOC Route Open For Bus, Trade

Srinagar: The fresh snowfall has not affected the Srinagar-Muzafarabad bus service and the same is on scheduled for Monday.

Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja told KNS: “The Cross LoC bus service is on schedule and we have the information that it will leave on Monday.”

Pertinently, the trucks carrying goods across the border also plied smoothly despite heavy snowfall in the area. 

Talking to KNS, Hilal Turkie, general secretary  Salambad-Chakoti LoC Traders Union said: “Today 27 goods trucks  went to the other side of LoC and we received 31 trucks carrying different tradable commodities here.”

Turkie observed that the minimum hindrance created by the climatic conditions is the reason, why the Cross LoC traders want to develop Srinagar-Muzaffarbad road as an alternative route for trade and travel.

“See with few inches of snow we always witness closure of Srinagar-Jammu national highway but this is not the case with Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road. The road is ok and snowfall has hardly creates any hurdles in the smooth conduct of trade on this route,” Turkie opined.

In April, 2005 the cross-LoC bus service was started as part of confidence building measures (CBM) between India and Pakistan to allow the divided families living on either side of LoC to meet each other. The two countries had agreed to facilitate cross-border travel by providing entry permits to divided Kashmiri families to travel across the border.

Meanwhile, the trade across the border through the same route is going on without any hassles, said Nazir Ahmad Baba, Custodian Trade Facilitation Center (TFC) Salamabad Uri. He said since its inception, there have been exports worth around Rs 1250 Crores (Pakistani Currency) and imports worth around Rs 700 Crores (Indian Currency). “The trade continued smoothly even during the recent turmoil,” Baba said.

The Custodian TFC said the trucks carrying good across the border are scheduled to ply on coming Tuesday.  Baba said, 50 truckloads will leave this side of the border on Tuesday while the same number of trucks is likely to be received on this side on the same day.

Started in October 2008, the Cross LoC trade is conducted four days a week and as per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) trade is being done on agreed 21 items. On March 15, the state government said that around Rs 17 crore are being spent for creating infrastructure at TFCs at Salambad and Chakkan-da-Bagh Cross-LoC points.

The government informed the Assembly that to introduce banking mechanism for cross LoC trade, the matter has been taken up with the government of India, which in turn has taken up the matter with the government of Pakistan, and the decision in this regard is awaited. 

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