Suspension of trade at Wagah affects livelihoods

The collapse of trade between India and Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab has severely hit the livelihood of scores of people linked to the trade in this border state. (PTI Photo)

The collapse of trade between India and Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab has severely hit the livelihood of scores of people linked to the trade in this border state. 

In good times, an estimated Rs 1,500 crore of annual trade used to take place through the Integrated Check Post (ICP) in Punjab. All of this has now come to a halt.  

The movement of goods through the ICP took place through nearly 400 trucks registered with the local truck union. Sources said, nearly 250 trucks have either been sold off for want of business or have been confiscated by banks and financial institutions for default in payment of installments.

A majority of the 1,400 porters who would make a living through trade ties between India and Pakistan now have little work to do. Many of them are struggling to make ends meet.

After the Pulwama strike in February this year, the Indian government imposed a heavy 220 % duty on goods coming from Pakistan. However, post the abrogation of article 370 and 35A, Pakistan stopped trade with India at the Integrated Check Post.

The Samjhauta Express was also stopped. All this has brought trade through the ICP to a standstill.  

The Member of Parliament from Amritsar, Gurjeet Singh Aujla, has demanded the resumption of trade ties through the Punjab Attari border to help people hit by the end of the trade.

As per estimates, over 5,000 people have been directly affected by the loss of trade. Petty shopkeepers, tea vendors in the area say their customers were mostly truck drivers and operators, who had to wait for days many times because of the trade rush at the ICP.

The business generated by large volumes of customers has ended. The office of the trade union in the area has also been shut down. 
 
During normal trade, transporters and traders on the Indian side would also generate business from goods brought in through the Samjhauta Express, which has stopped. Border towns around the ICP do not have any major or medium-sized industry, which makes the rehabilitation of people dependent on ICP trade even more difficult.

Trade through the Attari-Wagha border sees hope amid the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor link with Pakistan, which could prove one step towards some normalcu between the two nations. 
 
 

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