Siliguri hot spot of buz with Nathu La re-opening
Siliguri, July 08: Siliguri is all set to be the hotspot of business activities with the reopening of the Nathu La trade route in the Indo-China border.
"Siliguri in North Bengal is all set to be the transhipment hub of goods traded through the border," Confederation of Indian Industry's North Bengal zone president Kamal Kumar Mittal said.
"Goods loaded in large trucks from different states of the country has to be reloaded into small, highly efficient trucks here in Siliguri for movement in the hilly terrains of Sikkim before it passes through Nathu La," Mittal said.
Siliguri presently acts as a point for trade with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. With the re-opening of the Nathu La trade route goods, Siliguri became the transit for China also.
"Siliguri is going to become more strategically important with the re-opening of the Nathu La. Most of the trade between India and China will move via Siliguri since it is well linked with rail and road," state Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharya, who was here to unveil some projects in North Bengal recently, said.
The choice of Siliguri and its twin city, Jalpaiguri, as the point for Customs, warehousing and storage, and freight handling infrastructure seems obvious as it is also on the East-West Corridor of the National Highway Development Project, felt experts.
The state government had already asked the Siliguri-Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) to work out a detailed plan for development of the region.
Experts also point out that the Kolkata and Haldia docks are the ports closest to China's southern region. At present, the entire area is bottled up and has to do trade via Myanmar ports, 5,000km away. Kolkata in contrast is 1200 km.
So the obvious beneficiaries of the Nathu-La trade are likely be the port at Kolkata and Haldia.
Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) chairman Anup Chanda is upbeat about the possibility. "The new trade route will augur well for us. We are ready to handle any additional cargo that may come from Tibet," Chanda said.
The port trust is repairing infrastructure both at Kolkata and Haldia docks to handle additional cargo.