Trucks for cross LoC trade begin journey

October 20th, 2008 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Oct 20 (IANS) Fragrant apples, saffron and almonds were part of the goods that made their way Monday to a trade facilitation centre in the Kashmir Valley, the first step in a historic journey across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. One truck was symbolically flagged off by Mobeen Shah, president of the valley’s chamber of commerce and industry, from the industry lobby’s office in Srinagar’s Residency Road. Others started their journey to the Salamabad trade facilitation centre in Baramulla district from the towns of Shopian, Sopore and from the fruit market in Srinagar.

“These trucks will reach Salamabad trade facilitation centre in Baramulla today and halt there for the night for completion of formalities so that cross-LoC trade beginning between the two parts of divided Kashmir starts tomorrow without any hiccups,” Mobeen Shah said here.

The inaugural trade goods list - comprising 21 items - across the LoC beginning Tuesday includes apples, walnuts, almonds, saffron, red-kidney beans, chillies, honey, spice cakes and woollen shawls.

Besides, Ladakh apricot and turmeric are also included in the trade list from the Indian side.

From Muzaffarabad in Pakistan administered Kashmir, rock salt, basmati rice, dates, Hunza apricot and spices as well as medicinal herbs, carpets and rugs, foam mattresses and cushions, wall hangings and the famous peshawari leather slippers will make their way here.

“In all, 15 small trucks would carry goods across the LOC from this side tomorrow (Tuesday) and unload their consignments at Chakoti in Pakistan administered Kashmir,” a member of the local traders’ association said here.

After unloading their consignments at Salamabad and Chakoti, the trucks would return to their side of the LoC.

“The trade consignments would then be lifted from the two trade facilitation centres for delivery to the consignees,” an official said.

To begin with, each truck would carry a load of not more than one-and-a-half tonnes from either side of the LoC.

The decision to begin trade comes after a meeting between Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York last month that business across the LoC would begin on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and the Poonch-Rawlakote routes from Oct 21.

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