Apart from seeking telecom and banking facility to broaden the scope of trade between people on both sides of Line of Control, the Jammu Kashmir government has decided to seek inclusion of some more items in the list of goods to be exported from the state through Chakan Da Bagh and Salamabad meeting points on Poonch-Rawalakote and Uri-Muzaffarabad roads respectively.
The matter will taken up at a meeting scheduled to be held with the Secretary Internal Security in the Union Home Ministry on December 4, an official spokesman quoted Commissioner/Secretary Industries and Commerce (I&C) having informed the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at a high level meeting held at Trade Fecilitation Centre in Chakkan Da Bagh near Poonch. Some of these items, he disclosed, are metal, alloy and chemical products, readymade garments, edible products, cricket bats, wooden and steel furniture, canned wazwan and chicken, Plaster of Paris, juices and jams, packaged drinking water, besides plastic and sanitary wares.
This followed when Chief Minister while addressing the high level meeting pitched for inclusion of additional items to be traded with Pakistan occupied Kashmir so as to give fillip to local industry in the state, apart from extending the telecome and banking facilities at both the cross LoC meeting points. “I will take up the matter at the highest level so that Pakistan is convinced to agree to the proposal at the next meeting of the Joint Working Group between the two contries,” he said.
Prominent among those present at the meeting included Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Choudhary Zulfikar, Minister for Roads and Bridges Syed Mohamamd Altaf Bukhari, Minister for Education Naeem Akhtar, Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Council Jahangir Hussain Mir and legislators Shah Mohammad Tantray and Dr Shahnaz Goni.
Expressing a pleasant surprise over the volume of trade transacted at both the cross LoC meeting points through barter system, he said that “it would be my endeavour to take it to the next level by putting in place banking and telecommunication facility to demystify the trade, for which we expect a positive response from Pakistan’’. However, till such time a decision is taken, an institutional mechanism needs to be evolved to facilitate periodic meetings between authorized bodies headed by respective Deputy Commissioners and representatives of trader organizations for streamlining business at both the places.
The cross LoC trade, which started in 2008, takes places four days a week between Tuesday to Friday. With 303 traders registered to trade in 21 items approved for export and import between two sides, goods worth Rs 1,080 crore had been traded through Chakan Da Bagh and Rs 1,700 crore through Salamabad points during the last seven years.
Expressing his determination to make both the cross LoC points as show windows, Chief Minister emphasized on taking effective steps for promoting export of famed handicraft products of the state.
On creation of additional infrastructure like full body scanners for trucks etc., he asked the Director Union Ministry of Home Affairs to expedite release of funds earmarked for the purpose. However, till then, he asked the Chief Secretary to start work on creation of dedicated parking facility, residential accommodation and sites for installing x-ray machines at both the places.
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