Trade along the Line of Control (LOC) with Pakistan near Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir is falling due to the delay in expansion of the list of items permitted to be traded, traders said. Currently, there are just 21 tradeable items in the list.
"The cross-LOC trade used to be of seven to Rs 8 crore weekly which has now dropped to about Rs.1 crore or even less a week," Pawan Anand, president of Cross-LOC Traders' Association, told IANS over telephone from Poonch.
He said that against the permitted 25 cargo vehicles crossing either side the number now has reduced to three to four vehicles daily.
The trade goes on three days a week (Monday to Wednesday).
The items sent from this part of Kashmir include fruit (fresh and dry), spices, saffron, carpets, wall hangings, woollens, aromatic and medicinal plants, Cricket bats, black mushrooms, green tea and Rajma (red kidney beans) besides other items like handicrafts, handlooms and goods manufactured in the state's industrial units.
Anand said the reason for the decline in trade was that the government was not clearing the enhanced list of 50 items permitted to be traded. "They (officials) put unnecessary ban on items being traded like coconut, garlic, dry fruits etc. due to unexplained reasons."
He also said lack of banking and communication facilities are two major obstacles in the way of cross-LOC trade. "This trade is going on barter system and telephone lines to Pakistan from Jammu and Kashmir are blocked for security reasons."
But the Deputy Commissioner of Poonch, AK Sahu said the recent fall in trade was registered due to Ramzan month and following Eid Celebrations. "It should pick up now."
Sahu said only those items that are produced or manufactured in both Jammu and Kashmir or PoK are allowed in the trade while the items that traders send from other parts of both the countries are not allowed.
"This ban at times causes loss to the traders," he said.
The cross-LOC trade began amidst fanfare between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in December 2008 as confidence building measures (CBMs) by both India and Pakistan.
According to officials sources, about 4,200 truck loads of goods had gone to Pakistan from the Indian side and about 4,000 had come to India up to Dec 31, 2011. The trade from the Indian side was of about Rs 200 crore.