Tripura-Bangladesh trade suspended indefinitely

A trader’s association in Tripura has suspended trade with Bangladesh through Akhaura multi-use integrated check post (MICP) in Agartala for indefinite period from Friday.

Export-Importers’ Association of Tripura (EIAT) has taken the step to protest hike in ‘loading and unloading’ tariff by the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) after inauguration of the check post on November 17.

bd-india borderThe multi-use check post was inaugurated by Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and his then Bangladesh counterpart Dr Mahiuddin Khan Alamgir.

EIAT vice-president Sudeb Roy said, “Business in Akhaura has whittled down to half because of the unrealistic tariff set by CWC.”

He however, said that just before the inauguration of MICP, Land-port Authority of India (LPAI) had conveyed the decision of shifting the warehouse responsibility to CWC in the newly-built custom station but EIAT protested it.

He alleged that CWC has been compelling the traders to use the warehouse at high rates.

“We have brought the matter to the notice of both CWC and LPAI, but they did not respond. On November 20, we met industries and commerce minister Jitendra Choudhury over the issue and he requested us to continue business till Thursday (November 28),” Roy said.

He said EIAT had been expecting response from both the central authorities within a week but no initiative has been taken to resolve the crisis.

“With the increase in goods handling charge, cost of imported items from Bangladesh will automatically go up, which will ultimately affect the volume of business through Akhaura,” H Biswas, general secretary EIAT, said.

He added that CWC had introduced “double charge” on the same goods – first they charge a hefty amount when the goods are off loaded from Bangladeshi trucks, then CWC again charges the same amount for the goods when they are loaded into Indian trucks.

Citing the example, Biswas said, “Earlier labour charge for loading and unloading each cement bag was only Rs 2, but now CWC has increased it to Rs 5.80. Similarly, unloading of a stone chips-carrying truck was only Rs 700 and now it is Rs 1,700.”