Cross border trade with Pakistan to begin next month

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Srinagar, Sep 7 (UNI) A duty free cross border trade through Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakote roads is expected to start next month, sources said.

Starting cross border trade was one of the major demands of the Coordination Committee (CC), spearheading the present agitation in Jammu and Kashmir.

However, India blamed Pakistan for delay in starting the trade as there was no response from the neighbouring country to the Indian proposals.

Meanwhile, a Central team of senior officers yesterday visited the Kaman Post, the last Indian Army post on the Line of Control (LoC) about 125 km from here and the upcoming Land Customs Station at Salamabad, Uri, to inspect the facilities.

The team, comprising Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, T C A Raghavan, Joint Secretary, Home (Kashmir), S Skandan, Commissioner, Customs, Purti and S Devinder Singh, Commissioner (Customs) Jammu and Kashmir, is scheduled to visit Chakan Da Bagh in Poonch today.

It also had an elaborate inspection of the facilities already created at Salamabad, Uri for conducting the proposed duty-free Cross LoC trade, like custom clearance facilities for the incoming and outgoing goods to be traded across LoC, ware housing of the goods, parking of vehicles and other support services for running a Land Customs Station.

It was noted that very substantial progress had been achieved since the previous visit of the team in the last week of July 2008.

The Chief Secretary issued detailed instructions to the executing agency and the Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla to complete the remaining civil works including the construction of the truck terminal by the end of this month and also to do necessary alterations as per the requirements of the Customs authorities.

The team also inspected the additional land being acquired adjacent to the present site for developing a permanent Land Customs Stations of international standard in the near future.

The team was satisfied with the infrastructure created at Salamabad for starting the cross-LoC trade.

Later, the team had a meeting with Governor, N N Vohra at Raj Bhavan and briefed him about the visit.

The Governor emphasised on early completion of the remaining works by the end of the month so that the duty-free trade could be started by next month.

The team assured all the necessary support to the State Government for putting the required infrastructure in place both at Salamabad and Chakan Da Bagh in a time bound manner.

UNI BAS SK BD1210

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