Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Saturday more initiatives are required for further growth of trade between the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir since it is an important CBM between India and Pakistan.

Interacting with traders after opening the Trade Facilitation Centre at Salamabad in Uri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district near the LoC, Abdullah underlined the importance of tranquillity on the border as the key to smooth trade activities as also safeguarding life and property of the people living near the frontier.

“Peaceful and conducive conditions on the borders give fillip to trade activities and enable farmers to carry on agriculture operations without any fear,” he said and expressed the hope the present peaceful situation will get further strengthened.

Underlining the cross-LoC trade as an important confidence building measure (CBM) between India and Pakistan, he said more initiatives are required to ensure further growth of the trade across LoC.

He also reiterated the need of converting the present barter system of trade into normal trade practices so traders of both sides get benefits and trade activities flourish.

He talked of the need for telephone and banking facilities for traders and said his government has already taken up these issues with the government of India.

The traders, while presenting their memorandum to Abdullah, demanded inclusion of milk and milk products, mineral water, canned trout fish, juices and jams, wheat and wheat products, sports items, Kashmiri willow, wazwan, marble and gypsum in the export goods list and all type of pulses, oil seeds, feeds, leather and leather products, tea and coffee, all types of tyres and tubes, milk products, lubricants, hosiery and cosmetics goods, electric goods, textiles items, surgical items, fertilisers, foodgrains and spices, spare parts of automobile and poultry products in the import list.

They also highlighted the need for speedy clearance of visits of traders of Jammu and Kashmir by the Pakistani authorities. They also demanded hotline communication between trade and travel officers, issuance of visit permits for traders on the analogy of permits being issued in favour of passengers, establishment of warehouse and cold-storage facility in Baramulla district, ISD facilities to trade union office bearers, banking facilities, etc.

The chief minister was told that since the inception of trade across LoC Oct 21, 2008 import of goods from Pakistan was of the order of Pakistani Rupees 1620.35 crore while exports recorded has been of the order of Indian Rupees 994.33 crore.

As many as 14,580 truck loads arrived here from other side of LoC and 21,857 trucks carried goods from this side across LoC.

Under the Standing Operating Procedure put in place for smooth trade, 21 items have been permitted to be traded from Salamabad Uri to Chakoti and 21 from Chakoti to Salamabad Uri.

The Trade Facilitation Centre was built for Rs.895.72 lakh. While the state government provided 30 kanals of land for the complex, the central government extended the monetary help.

Source: IANS