80 traders restricted from cross LoC trade, 70 trucks detained

A Pak truck loaded with goods coming out of LoC Trade Centre, Poonch on Thursday. -Excelsior/Ramesh Bali
A Pak truck loaded with goods coming out of LoC Trade Centre, Poonch on Thursday. -Excelsior/Ramesh Bali

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Oct 4: At least 80 traders from Poonch and Jammu have been restricted from conducting cross LoC trade on Poonch-Rawlakote route between J&K and PoK while about 70 trucks have been detained by the authorities at Chakkan-da-Bagh and Poonch.
Reports said that about 375 traders have been registered by the District authorities Poonch for the cross LoC trade activities through Poonch-Rawlakote (PoK) route and 21 tradable items have been allowed on this route. As per the trade agreement, the traders on both the sides have agreed to purchase goods from each other of the nearly same amount and neutralize the difference if any by making purchases.
Due to the tension along borders for the past long time, no cross LoC traders meeting could be held at Chakkan- Da- Bagh LoC point and the trade disputes could not be resolved. The balance amount of many traders on this side of the LoC has gone so high even to the extent of Rs 2-3 crores. They are receiving less goods from that side and due to non-conduct of meeting, the authorities on this side have restricted the traders whose balance amount has gone higher to carry on their trade activity for some time, till the balance is neutralized/ cleared.

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Sources revealed that for the last few days about 70 such trucks have been detained and lying stranded in Poonch area while at least 80 traders have been restricted from cross LoC trade activity.
There is strong resentment among the traders who have been temporarily banned and they alleged that they are being denied business opportunity for none of their fault. They said that Governments on both the sides have failed to organize cross LoC traders meets. Earlier, from 2009 onwards, at least 3-4 meetings of traders on both the sides in presence of Indian-Pak officials were used to be held every year.
President, cross LoC Traders Union, Poonch, Pawan Anand when contacted said that earlier, there used to be hardly 50 odd traders from 2009 onwards registered with the authorities for cross LoC trade via Poonch cross LoC point. The trade was also going on smoothly and disputes were also very less. But these disputes were used to be resolved during frequent meetings being held among the traders on both the sides.
Replying to another question, Anand said now the number of traders has reached up to nearly 375. No regular cross LoC traders meetings are being held and trade related disputes have also increased. There are many traders whose huge amount is blocked with the traders on that side. Moreover, Indian currency has higher value in Pakistan. Such traders have now been restricted, rather advised by the authorities on this side to first clear their dues/ balance money blocked on that side.
Till then their trade activity has been stalled. Their trucks with goods have also been debarred from going to the other side. He demanded that authorities on both the sides should resolve the pending issues/ disputes of the cross LoC traders by holding meeting at the earliest.
Fareed Ahmed Kohli, Custodian/Trade Facilitation Officer, Chakkan-Da-Bagh Trade Centre (Poonch), when contacted, said that trucks of such traders have been detained/ restricted whose higher balance is blocked on that side. There will be around 80 to 90 traders who have been temporarily restricted from trade activity.
He said as per instructions from the Governor’s office and taking note of Standard Operating Procedures laid down by the concerned authorities, these traders have been asked to get their huge balances cleared first and three months time has been given to them. Till then their trade has been restricted temporarily.
He also disclosed that about 70-80 trucks were debarred from exporting their goods. A truck from Pakistani side was also sent back after some objections raised by the Customs authorities today. He disclosed that today, 35 trucks loaded with goods crossed over to that side of the LoC while 28 trucks arrived here from Pakistan occupied Kashmir.


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