September 2, 2010 4:26:46 pm
The key Wagah border may get another international check point to ease the increasing traffic between India and Pakistan.
As trade between India and Pakistan was growing,the Ministry of Home Affairs has noted that there has been an increasing need to construct and open a second gate on the Attari-Wagah border with adequate infrastructure for transit and trade.
The Ministry is planning to rope in the Ministry of External Affairs soon to take up the issue with Islamabad as consent of Pakistan was essential to work beyond the fencing and up to the Zero Line and to construct the connecting route from the site of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari to the other side of the international border.
At present,there is only one entry and exit gate on the Attari-Wagah border. The gate experiences heavy traffic and crowding due to the retreat parade held every evening there.
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Hence,the gate is closed for a few hours every day,which affects the flow of people and goods between the two countries.
“The MEA will be requested to take up the issue with Pakistan for the opening of a second gate on the border as this would facilitate both the movement of men and material across the border,” a Home Ministry official said.
During the India-Pakistan talks on Economic and Commercial Cooperation held in 2007,India had made a presentation on the state of development of the ICP at Attari. The Pakistani side also gave a briefing on the state of infrastructure and proposed plan of development on its side.
At the meeting,though both sides agreed to continue the exchange of information on the development of ICPs,no further action followed.
According to the data provided by Customs department,on an average 20-30 trucks cross Wagah every day. During the April-October 2009 period,the total value of exports to Pakistan through the border was Rs 299.14 crore while during the corresponding period of the previous year,it was Rs 105.71 crore.
At present,India is exporting soya extracts,green chillies,potatoes,tomato and raw cotton among others.
However,the trade between the two countries registered marginal increase in terms of imports. India imported goods worth Rs 182.48 crore during the period April-October 2009,while the total value of imports during the corresponding period last year was Rs 179.28 crore.
Truck movement into each others’ territory had began on October 1,2007 when Indian goods carriers laden with tomato crossed Attari into Pakistan. Earlier,export items were carried by porters who exchanged their loads on Radcliff line marking the boundary.
The Attari Integrated Check Post is the first ICP where construction is being undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 150 crore. The government is constructing 13 ICPs in different international borders at a total cost of Rs 635 crore.
Facilities which will be available include passenger terminal building,currency exchange,Internet facility,cargo process building,warehouse/cold storage,quarantine laboratory,banks,isolation bay,parking,cafeteria and other public utilities.
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