iconimg Friday, September 04, 2015

Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times
Attari, October 04, 2012
The Centre spent crores of rupees on the Integrated Check Post (ICP) to make trade with Pakistan through the Attari border smoother, but hundreds of trucks lined up on the border narrate a different story.
The ICP authorities claim that the queue is owing to the heavy demand of fresh vegetables from Pakistan, whereas the truckers have a different take.

As one moves towards the Attari border, one can spot a queue of trucks for almost two kilometres. A similar queue can also be seen on the road leading to the Attari railway station.

The truck drivers, who are waiting to enter the ICP for the past four to five days, allege that the local trucks are allowed to break the queue and enter the ICP. They allege that the local police at times also allow some people to break the queue and when some truckers object to this, they get snubbed.

Most of the trucks that are waiting on the road include trucks carrying tomatoes, which are to be exported to Pakistan. As they are waiting on the road for days, tomatoes are rotting in the trucks.

Narrating his woes, Manjit Singh, a truck driver, said, "I reached the border four days ago with a truckload of tomatoes. But I am still waiting for my turn. Owing to pressure from the local union, a few trucks are allowed to break the queue and we are kept waiting."

It is unfortunate that even after coming up of the ICP, trucks had to wait for days to get clearance, he added.

Narrating a similar tale, Suresh, a truck driver who came from Bikaner, said, "We cannot understand why we are being kept waiting on the road for days. Tomatoes have got spoiled. We have no option but to cook and sleep on the road. The ICP authorities need to do something."

Truck driver Balwinder Singh said, "I have been waiting for my turn for the past five days. Many trucks are being favoured, and when we object, we are threatened. The police are also not doing anything."

An official at the ICP said, "These days, there is a lot of demand for fresh vegetables such as tomatoes and onions from Pakistan. We are sending there about 200 trucks every day. We know there is a queue outside but we are accommodating maximum of them."

About the allegations that some trucks were being favoured, the official said they were keeping an eye on that and would not allow any such thing.

Deputy commissioner Rajat Aggarwal said, "The customs department has to look into this. If the police are favouring certain individuals, I would take up that with the SSP."