Trade bodies of Bangladesh and India have demanded the launch of import of goods from Bangladesh to India through Mahadipur, a land port on the international border in Malda district.
As of now, only goods are exported from India to Bangladesh through the Mahadipur land port. The introduction of the import to India, the trade bodies said, will benefit the residents of north Bengal.
The demand was taken up with Gaurav Sinha, a commissioner of Customs posted in Calcutta, during his recent visit to Mahadipur to check the existing infrastructure at the land port.
“Our country is claimed to be the fifth largest economy in the world. Our demand is in the interest of the national economy. We have already communicated our demand to the directorate of foreign trade and Customs. We will approach them again. Exporters of Bangladesh, particularly those in the Rajshahi division, also back the demand for the export of goods to India through Mahadipur,” said Prasenjit Ghosh, the secretary of the Mahadipur Exporters’ Association.
Every day, around 380 trucks laden with stone chips, onions, potatoes, cattle feed and other goods go to Bangladesh through Mahadipur.
“In a similar manner, Bangladeshi exporters from Rajshahi, Chapai-Nawabganj, Sona Mosjid and other adjoining areas are keen to send at least 100 trucks to India through Mahadipur, carrying different items,” said Bhupati Mandal, a member of the Mahadipur Clearing and Forwarding Agents’ Association.
About a month ago, a delegation of the Malda Merchant Chamber of Commerce (MMCC) visited Bangladesh to discuss the prospects of developing bilateral trade further through Mahadipur.
“While interacting with us, our Bangladeshi counterparts expressed willingness to send to India hilsa, other fishes, timber, garments, fruits and raw jute through Mahadipur,” said Jayanta Kundu, the president of the MMCC.
Kundu has said as of now, hilsa and some other goods are imported to India through Benapole and Petrapole land ports which have good testing laboratories.
“So, it takes more than 36 hours for the fish and other goods to reach Malda and its neighbouring districts. If the Mahdipur route is opened, the goods would reach Malda from Rajshahi in six to eight hours,” said Kundu.
Senior officials of Customs said to start the import, the first requirement at Mahadipur was a laboratory where goods brought from Bangladesh would have to be examined according to the norms.
“As of now, we don’t have any such lab here,” said Desh Dulal Chatterjee, the superintendent of customs posted at the land port.
The traders also said the land port needed a parking facility before the launch of the import.
“Besides, the infrastructure for immigration is required to be improved. Every day, around 300 people cross the India-Bangladesh border through Mahadipur. The existing infrastructure is miserable and people face inconveniences. The central government and the departments concerned should look into the issue,” said Roy, who represents the exporters.