Nepal trading community against India operating new ICP

Kathmandu, June 5 (IANS) Nepal has requested India not to commence operations on its new Integrated Check Post (ICP) on the Nepal-India border in Raxaul-Birgunj till it completes work on its own side of the border trading post.

India inaugurated its first Integrated Check Post (ICP) on its side of the border in Raxaul-Birgunj on Friday. Built on 110 acres of land, the Indian ICP has four entry points.

With its side of infrastructure yet to be completed, Nepal has requested India not to operate the ICP unilaterally as it could “complicate” trade between the two countries.

Nepal has to complete the remaining about 30 per cent of works on the ICP which is being built at Sirsiya, close to the Indian ICP, said Nepali officials. Once completed, the Birgunj customs operations will shift there.

Raxaul-Birgunj is the key Nepal-India trading point that conducts over 70 per cent of the total fuel business between the two countries.

Nepali traders have expressed concern that operation of the ICP on the Indian side could disrupt normal trade through the Birgunj customs point because of the longer distance they would have to travel to reach the ICP for customs clearance works.

All the services necessary for export-import such as customs, immigration, quarantine and banks, among others, are available at the ICP. Such facilities are being built on either side of the border. India has taken the responsibility of building the ICPs on both sides.

The Land Port Authority of India is responsible for operating the Indian ICP. The Indian authority will conduct customs clearance-related works at the ICP based at Panatoka, Raxaul, and send the goods through the Birgunj customs.

Nepali traders say this would affect export-import being carried out through Birgunj.

Not only the import of petroleum products, export-import of other goods would also be affected, they contend.

Talking to the media, President of Birgunj Chambers of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Pradeep Kediya said Nepal’s trade will be heavily affected if the ICP on the Indian side is operated.

“Importers will be affected. So we would request that the Indian ICP not be started till the Nepali ICP is ready for operation,” said Kedia.

Birgunj Customs Chief Sewantak Pokharel spoke in a similar vein. “Trucks loaded with goods have to travel 13 km from the Indian ICP to Birgunj customs. It will create more trouble for importers,” he said.

“The Indian ICP was inaugurated on Friday but it has not yet come into operation,” said Birgunj Customs Chief Pokharel. “As Sunday is a public holiday in India, we will know only on Monday or Tuesday whether the ICP will be operational.”

“Even Raxaul-based traders have protested the operation of the Indian ICP unilaterally as it would result in traffic jam in India,” said Pokharel.

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