First centre for cross-LoC Kashmir trade ready

October 17th, 2008 - 6:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghJammu, Oct 17 (IANS) The first trade centre near the Line of Control (LOC) in Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir is ready for biweekly trade with Pakistan from Oct 21. It is scheduled to be thrown open on the Indian side by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.The first phase of the centre at Rangar in Poonch comprises sheds for off-loading cargo vehicles from Pakistan, scanning and customs units. “We will go in for dummy checks of all these on Saturday and Sunday,” government officials in Poonch said.

Cross-border trade on the Poonch-Rawalkot route was to start Oct 28, but now it is to begin earlier - on Oct 21, along with the Uri-Muzaffarabad route. Deputy Commissioner of Poonch Mohammad Afzal Bhat told IANS over phone, “Security is our prime concern.”

The Rangar trade centre has been built at Rs.40 million.

With the installation of security and scanning equipment still to take some time, the police plan to do “thorough physical checking” and will use over a dozen sniffer dogs for the purpose. The administration plans to set up dog kennels at the Rangar Trade Center. “We have to pamper these dogs as the entire security would depend on them initially,” said the official in a lighter vein.

The Deputy Commissioner said that initially the trade would be a bi-weekly affair. The trucks from Rawalakot in Pakistan side would come up to the Rangar Nallah trade centre and off load the goods there. “The frequency of trade will be reviewed later depending on the demand from either side,” he said.

India and Pakistan have agreed to begin cross-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir from Oct 21 when trucks will start moving on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route. A week later, on Oct 28 lorries will begin rolling between Poonch in Jammu and Rawlakote in Pakistani Kashmir.

The move was announced in the New York meeting between Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month.

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