Official Figures Present Grim Picture Of LOC Trade

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Srinagar: The cross LoC trade that was one among the major confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan has turned a “failure” with official figures revealing that both the neighboring countries have failed to make any progress in the trade.

Trade across the LoC was begun in 2008 which raised high hopes among the traders community of both parts of Kashmir. However, the official figures depicting a grim picture of the LoC trade, that has shown no progress for the last three years.

According to the official figures, 768061.86 quintals of goods were exported from here during 2012-2013 with the value of Rs 371.67 crore (INR) while as 790245.70 quintals of goods were exported from other side of Kashmir with the value of Rs 657.79 crore (PC).

During 2013-2014, 624607.15 quintals of goods were exported from here worth Rs 347.59 crore (INR) against 352946.78 quintals of goods were imported from PaK with the value of Rs 513.62 crore (PC).

The quantity of goods that were exported during 2014-2015 was 590266.70 quintals worth Rs 371.74 crore while as 258971.48 quintals of goods were imported from PaK with the value of Rs 583.67 crore. The cross-LoC trade takes place on four days a week with 21 permissible items.

General Secretary Salamabad-Uri Trade Union, Hilal Ahmad Turki blamed the Indian-Pakistan authorities for failure of LoC trade.

“This trade has remained confined to barter system with exchange of goods only without any money transaction,” Turki told KNS. “Government has also decided to ban exchange of bananas and apple which will be a huge setback for the trade. The trade is now at the last stage and won’t last longer,” he added.

He said some of the items that are being produced from this side of Kashmir have been dropped from the list permissible for trading. “Some dropped items have a greater demand from other side still government has put ban on their trade,” he said.

A senior official of Industries and Commerce said it was out of the domain of the department to make any progress in the trade. “We can only put our suggestions forward but authorities of India and Pakistan have to take the decision in this regard. Both countries have even failed to make facilitation of banking facilities and it has been limited to barter trade,” the official said.

Sources said ministry of Home Affairs has approved Rs 120 crores for purchase of two full body scanners for installation at two crossing points on the LoC at Poonch-Rawlakote and Uri-Muzaffarabad routes. The full body scanners can scan the entire truck and detect any unwanted items being brought in the trucks. The decision to install body scanners was taken in the backdrop of reports that some narcotics were being smuggled through the trade. The LoC trade has witnessed setbacks since it was started. The trade remained suspended for a week in February this year after a PaK truck driver was arrested for allegedly smuggling narcotics into this part of Kashmir.

Union Home Secretary visited at Salamabad trade centre in Uri sector last month where he said the government was keen to strengthen the CBMs with Pakistan and as a part of CBMs, cross-LoC trade is being strengthened and expanded. 

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