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Indo-Bangla trade hub set for expansion

Silchar, May 14: Export and import of commodities through the trade centre at Suterkandi on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Karimganj district has shown an upward trend in the past three years.

While in the last fiscal (2013-14), Bangladesh attained an all-time high in import of goods to India through the Suterkandi land customs station, it has also increased its volume of exports through the centre.

The trade centre is 14km from Karimganj town and 69km from here.

According to data made available to The Telegraph by the trade centre authorities, goods worth Rs 63.11 crore were imported by Bangladesh to India in the last fiscal, while the neighbouring country exported goods worth Rs 70.28 crore.

This figure is a significant improvement from the previous fiscal (2012-13), when Bangladesh imported goods worth Rs 46 crore, while the export value of good was pegged at Rs 43 crore.

The data reveals industrial and food items like cement, cotton, marble slabs and tiles and poultry feed along with low ash coal from Meghalaya were imported from India by Bangladesh in 2013-14.

The export items include oranges from Tripura and Mizoram, ginger, passion fruit and satkora (citrus fruit) from Mizoram and dry fish from Assam.

The neighbouring country, on the other hand, imports the much coveted hilsa fish, molasses, canned fruit juice, bakery products, aerated water, biscuits and melamine products to India.

Sources today said the Suterkandi trade centre is likely to be upgraded in its second phase of expansion “very soon” at a cost of Rs 70 crore to be granted by the Union ministry of commerce and industry.

They said the centre, built at a cost of Rs 8.5 crore, has facilities like a big warehouse, two weighbridges, a bank branch and post office, a cafeteria and police station.

Sources added that Suterkandi would be equipped with residential quarters for the centre staff, a fire-fighting station, truck enclosure and a dumping yard as part of the expansion.

However, the only blemish in the increasing trade has been the traffic bottlenecks on National Highway 101 leading to Suterkandi because of trucks carrying export items, particularly coal from Meghalaya.

In a bid to remove the traffic jams, the Centre has proposed to widen and improve the second entry point to Suterkandi, stretching from Nilambazar on NH 44 to Fakira Bazar connecting NH 101 for a distance of 21km at a cost of Rs 27 crore.