The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Number bar lifted for border trade

Gangtok, July 13: There will be no restrictions on the number of traders willing to go to the Tibet Autonomous Region in China to study trade prospects in the first three months.

Chief minister Pawan Chamling today asked the district magistrate (East), Ravindra Telang, to issue passes to all youths and entrepreneurs wishing to travel to the other side of the border. The district magistrate (East) is the authority in charge of issuing travel and trade passes for border trade.

Chamling gave the instruction soon after the swearing-in ceremony of Bihar Governor R.S. Gawai at Raj Bhavan today. Gawai has been given additional charge of Sikkim for two months as the incumbent V. Rama Rao is going on leave for this period.

'This will allow youths and entrepreneurs and the unemployed youth of the state to assess the prospects of border trade. They will learn and see for themselves how they can benefit from it,' Chamling told Telang.

Speaking to The Telegraph after the programme, Telang said a large number of applications seeking travel passes had already been received by the collectorate. These, he said, would be forwarded to intelligence officials for security clearance before being permitted. Earlier, around 100 travel passes were issued on the inaugural day of border trade. These passes are valid for three months.

Four days of trading has been permitted each week from Monday to Thursday, from 8 am to 5 pm. Around 60 vehicles will be permitted each day and their passes issued by the district magistrate.

Meanwhile, customs officials yesterday stopped a group of Indian traders from taking trade items across. The traders reportedly could not furnish the import-export code number, which is mandatory for clearance. The goods, which were headed for the trade mart in Rinchingang on the other side, had to be brought back here.

The assistant treasurer of the Sikkim chamber of commerce, Anil Gupta, was one of the traders. Gupta was taking with him rice, flour and spices to trade on the other side. 'We were not informed of this code and came to know about it only after we reached the border outpost,' said Gupta. He said he had specifically asked about this code at an awareness seminar held here last month and senior commerce and industries officials and customs personnel present had said it was not necessary.

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