Till recently the trade on this route was a big success story. But the past few weeks have seen a significant slump, as it went down to a little over Rs.1.5 crore from a whopping Rs. 8 crore at one point of time. The reason — Pakistan has banned export of moong dal (pulses) which proved to be a boon to trade.
Now the merchants on this side have threatened to suspend the trade if moong dal and other items are not allowed.
Unlike the low trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route, the Chakan Da Bagh crossing point had witnessed brisk activity since the launch of the cross Line of Control trade on October 21, 2008. However, the main trade centre at Rangad is still without proper power supply, X-ray and weighing facility. But the custom and immigration centre is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.
There are 21 listed items for the trade on both sides, but moong dal on the Pakistani side and coconuts on this side have given an impetus to its huge success in the past one year. It is because of high profit margin in dal, which is in demand on this side, that the trade has been going on. Likewise coconut is in demand on the other side. However, sensing trouble on the price front in their own area, Pakistani authorities have banned the export of moong dal, which has upset the traders.
“Even in a single truck a trader could save more than Rs.1 lakh in moong dal business on one occasion” said an official. On Friday the traders in Poonch threatened to suspend the trade if the two countries failed to restore supply of moong dal by December 23. The six-member committee said that there has been considerable decrease in the exchange of goods between the two sides.
“Traders from Islamabad suddenly stopped the supply of moong dal to this side since November 18 this year which caused huge losses to our trade. It was one of the important commodities which fetched us a very good profit,” Pawan Anand a member of the committee said.
The traders are also facing hardship owing to the lack of modern facilities. “We are at the mercy of security people who open up every box and it causes damage to products,” said a trader. He said trade should be on consumption basis rather than on production basis.
. From this side also government has banned Moongfili and truckloads worth crores of rupees have been held up on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route. Notwithstanding logistical problems, the trade, done on a barter system, has been impressive.
In the past one year, the imports have touched nearly Rs. 80 crore from the Pakistani side. Exports have been worth about Rs. 50 crore. From the Pakistani side 1,288 trucks have crossed the LOC and from here 1,056 have taken merchandise to the other side.