Kashmir government readies for cross-border trade

September 2nd, 2008 - 11:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Sep 2 (IANS) The government is readying for opening trade links with Pakistan through Jammu and Kashmir - a demand which was raised by people during protests over bitter Amarnath land row and subsequent blockade of the only motorable road link to the valley.Infrastructural facilities are nearing completion at Salamabad near the Uri border town in north Kashmir Baramulla district for commencement of trans-Line of Control (LOC) trade between Jammu and Kashmir state and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, official sources said.

Political parties, both mainstream as well as the separatists in the Kashmir Valley, have been demanding the opening of the cross-border trade links with Pakistan after agitators in Jammu, protesting the revocation of land order favouring a Hindu temple trust, allegedly forced “economic blockade” against the valley.

The land row was solved following a deal between the Jammu protesters and the government Aug 31, after more than two months of violent protests. Nearly 50 people were killed, mostly in police firing, during the days of unrest in the state.

Governor N.N. Vohra Tuesday chaired a high level meeting here to review the status of various facilities being put in place for facilitating the cross border trade.

While 95 percent of the required work for raising pre-fabricated structures providing ware-housing, immigration and customs facilities, scanning units and weighing bridges have been completed, the sprucing up of the 12-km border stretch from Salamabad to the Kaman Post (the last Indian point on the LoC) is proceeding at a high speed, a government press release issued after the meeting said here.

The first six kilometres of the upgraded double-lane road have been completed and the governor has instructed the authorities to have the remaining stretch completed by Oct 7.

The governor observed that while the bare minimum infrastructure raised at Salamabad would be used for starting the process of trade through Muzaffarabad, work on the required additional facilities would be simultaneously taken up.

Vohra also stressed the need for creating adequate infrastructure facilities at Chaka-da-Bagh in Poonch in the Jammu region for commencing trade through the Poonch-Rawalakote Road as well in near future.

The governor designated the state industries and commerce department as the nodal agency for the trans-border trade and announced a budgetary grant of Rs.30 million for creating facilties at Salamabad in Uri and Rs.10 million for Chaka-da-Bagh in Poonch.

The governor said an exchange of delegations for the commencement of trade had been cleared by the central government a long time time back but a clearance by Pakistan in this regard was still awaited.

Tuesday’s high-level meeting was attended by the three advisors of the governor. H.H. Tyabji, S. S. Bloeria, and C. Phunsog.

State chief secretary S. S. Kaptur, financial commissioner (planning) Madhav Lal, principal secretary (Home) Anil Goswami, principal secretary to governor, B.B. Vyas, director general of police (CID) Ashok Bhan and other senior officials also attended the meeting.

In another major development, the frequency of the passenger bus service on the Poonch-Rawalakote road in Jammu region has been increased and made weekly. The new arrangement will start from Sep 8.

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