December 16, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: Aiming to forge long term trade relations between Pakistan and India, the Punjabi Cultural Council (PCC) has appealed to both the governments to open and allow trade activities through the Hussainiwala (Ferozepur) and Sadki (Fazilka) borders like the Attari ICP so as farmers, industrialists and traders of the region could be able to export and import goods and produce at low costs. Besides, the PCC has also demanded to open old rail routes with Pak through Dera Baba Nanak and Hussainiwala to benefit the travelers.
In a statement chairman Punjabi Cultural Council Harjeet Singh Grewal said the farmers, traders and industrialists on both sides of the Redcliff line are impatient to have trade ties as there exists more potential that could boost trade through road and rail with other neighbouring and Central Asian countries also. Lamenting at insufficient trade facilities and infrastructure at the Attari border, he said Indian traders are desperate at unsatisfactory services thereby exports and imports are at the lowest ebb.
Giving details Harjit Singh Grewal added that the exports and imports during 2017-18 through the land port Attari were only Rs 744 core and Rs 3,404 crore respectively whereas in 2014-15, it was Rs 2,117 crore and Rs 2,368 crore respectively. Similarly, flow of passengers passing through this international border had also plunged in the previous year.
Demanding opening up new trade routes and ex-in facilities for trading with Pak and Gulf, the Council stressed that exports by local industry, auto sector, bicycles, sports goods, farm machinery and agricultural produce could benefit both sides as well as other countries also. Seeking to establish more ICPs on Punjab borders, Grewal informed that at present demand and supply with the Pak and the other countries was being met through Kandla (Gujarat) and Nava Sheva (Maharashtra) ports which was a costly affair for the Northern states thereby putting constraints on consumer markets in the neighbouring nations.
Expressing concern at fewer trade facilities at Attari ICP, Grewal argued that if Kandla port in PM’s state could function round the clock for trading with Pak, then why has not Attari land route been facilitated and allowed to work throughout the year. He said the new land routes for Indo-Pak trade would save time and costs as well as environment, air and water pollution due to less consumption of fuel by trucks and ships.
Lauding the opening of Kartarpur Sahib corridor with Pak, the Punjabi Cultural Council has strongly demanded that traders’ organisations, industrial chambers, CII, producers and manufacturers including farmers should be allowed long term visas by both the nations so that aspiring exporters and importers could explore opportunities for trading in potential international markets in neighbouring countries.