Readying for trans-LoC trade at Poonch

Monday, 29 September 2008, 11:39 Hrs
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Jammu: Days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari announced in New York the launching of cross-border trade from October, the Jammu and Kashmir government made a beginning Sunday by laying the foundation stone for a trade centre at Poonch near the border.

Governor N.N. Vohra laid the foundation stone of a 200 million Rangarh Trade Centre at Poonch for trans-LOC (Line of Control) trade that would start from this sector on oct 28.

After laying the foundation stone of the trade centre at Rangarh nallah near LOC, the governor told mediapersons: "The first phase of the trade centre would be complete by Oct 15 at a cost of 4.25 million."

He said since the installation of security and scanning equipment would take some time, "we will be doing thorough physical checking and over a dozen sniffer dogs will be put on the job". The administration plans to have modern dog kennels at the trade centre.

Vohra said that initially 21 items from India and Pakistan would be traded. These items "will be finalized by the team of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI)". The Pakistan team is scheduled to visit the Indian side by the middle of October and India would reciprocate the visit later.

From Oct 28, trucks would start rolling between Poonch and Rawlakot - a week after it would begin on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route.

But the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Jammu feels "opening of the Suchetgarh- Sialkot, Naushera-Mirpur or Pallanwala-Chhamb routes will benefit Jammu region as Poonch is far away from Jammu and transportation cost will be high".

Poonch-Rawlakot was the main trading route before partition of the country in 1947. It was called as a "trade and agricultural link" and played a major role in the economy of the area.

It was one of the few trade routes in the entire erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir which remained open throughout the year. Traders and businessmen freely traded fruits, vegetables, dry fruits, wool, tobacco, cereals, rice, spices and many other items.

Barter trade system was followed by most of the traders and businessmen.

At Chakan-da-Bagh, the point where Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir meet on the Poonch-Rawlakote road, everything is in place for the Oct 28 D-day.

The trade items were finalised and modalities worked out by officials of India and Pakistan early this week. On Wednesday, a joint statement was read out in New York after the Manmohan Singh-Zardari meeting.
Source: IANS
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