After the standoff at the Line of Control (LoC) over a huge consignment of brown sugar being detected in a truck carrying almonds from Pakistan earlier this year, the government is planning to install 'full body truck scanners' in the state for trade across LoC.
The decision came on Thursday at a joint meeting of officers from the state and the Centre to review and discuss issues related to cross LoC trade.
According to a government spokesman, the tendering process for the purchase of full body truck scanners has been completed and a team of experts is likely to identify the location and advice on the preparatory work before the installation.
The incident that happened in January this year - narcotics worth `100 crore were hidden under a consignment of almonds meant for a trader in the Valley - had exposed how fragile the cross LOC trade was.
After the incident, all trade and the much-hyped bus services between the two sides of Kashmir
remained suspended for over a month.
The cross LoC trade still happens in a primitive barter system, with no banking or communication facilities available and thus leaving it vulnerable to scrupulous activities.
The lack of proper trading mechanisms and technological innovations like full body truck scanners
had further made it a security risk.
The meeting was attended by Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, financial commissioner, industries and commerce; joint secretary, ministry of home affairs (MHA), RK Srivastava; principal secretary, MHA, Suresh Kumar; IG (CID), J&K, B Srinivas; deputy secretary (K), MHA, Sulekha; besides officers of industries and commerce department, J&K Bank and BSNL were also present on the occasion.
"While discussing various demands and problems being faced by the traders' associated with cross LoC trade at Salamabad, Uri and Chakan Da Bagh, Poonch, it was felt that there was urgent need for further augmentation and streamlining of the cross LOC trade. It was agreed that the additional items to be included for trade should be forwarded by the industries and commerce department to the MHA for its inclusion in the agreed list of items in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP),"said the spokesman.
"The Government of India has also taken up the issue regarding banking facilities with the Government of Pakistan,"said the spokesman.
During the meeting, enhancement of cash amount to be carried by the passengers travelling to Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) was also agreed to and a proposal to this effect would be submitted by the home department to the MHA for approval. Opening of additional trade routes, issuance of Visa permits and maintenance of balance sheet for goods traded across the LoC from both sides were also discussed at the meeting.
Modernisation of infrastructure at trade facilitation centres (TFC) at Salamabad, Uri and Chakan Da Bagh was agreed and the custodians of the respective TFCs were directed to submit the updated proposals to the state government for further necessary action and release of funds by the MHA.