Even as importers are feeling the pinch due to falling value of rupees against the dollar, Indian businessmen dealing in Indo-Pak trade through the rail route have their own set of problems ranging from lack of infrastructure to inadequate goods wagons needed to send their goods across.
Indian traders have been making demands in this regard for long, but rue that the Railways had not done enough to resolve these contentious issues. Traders complain that exports remain parked at Amritsar rail cargo for days together and there is always a lurking danger of goods getting spoilt due to monsoons.
A visit to railway cargo termimal reveals that goods worth crores and meant for export to Pakistan keep piling up. Although wagons are made available to upload the goods to ferry them across the border ever fourth or fifth day, the number of wagons is far too less.Affected traders held a meeting here on Saturday and flayed railway authorities and demanded adequate number of wagons for swift movement of exports across the border.
Talking to HT, Amritsar Exporters Association general secretary Rajesh Setia said, "Things have become very tough for us for the past some time. There are many items that are not allowed to be exported through road route and we are left with only the railroad option. But the lack of wagons is hampering our business. We have raised the matter with authorities many times but things haven't changed. If 12 or 15 wagons are deployed to load the goods meant for exports, they are far too less. We want the railways to ensure regular availability of goods wagons so that exports are not dumped for long."
A leading trader Rajdeep Uppal stressed that a lot had changed on the Indo-Pak trade front and the Railways needed to do a lot more to ensure smooth bilateral trade. "The situation is such that exports worth Rs 300 crore are waiting to be uploaded and many items are always in danger of getting spoiled. Wagons aside, one can see the deplorable infrastructure at the rail cargo terminal. During rain, it becomes even worse. There is nothing in the name of security and we want that the railways urgently looked into the matter."
Another exporter Jaspal Singh mentioned that lot of goods were sent to Pakistan through the rail route. There was a lot of potential for bilateral trade but things were always on the slower track due to lack of infrastructure and wagons, he claimed.
"We are always waiting for Pakistani wagons to arrive and pick our goods. The Indian railways also need to provide more freight wagons to give boost to trade,"he added.Trader Dalip Singh claimed that many meetings have been held between traders and politicians and even with bureaucrats but things have not changed. "We demand from the government that it creates a congenial environment for Indo-Pak trade," he remarked.