Doklam standoff impact: Despite passes, traders on Sino-India border in Himachal await govt nod
The cross-border trade that generally starts at the end of June every year, is yet to commence.india Updated: Jul 30, 2017 15:07 IST
The ongoing standoff between India and China at Doklam, Sikkim, has taken a toll on the Sino-India cross-border trade in Himachal Pradesh. The cross-border trade that generally starts at the end of June every year, is yet to commence. The local administration has asked 52 traders to wait for the Central government’s nod, even though they have been issued trading passes.
Trade between the two countries is carried out through the Shipki pass in Kinnaur district. Of the 86 traders who applied for the passes, 52 have been given security clearance.
“Passes have been allotted to some traders but we are yet to receive directions on allowing them to carry the cross-border trade,” said Rajiv Verma, tehsildhar of Pooh.
Meanwhile, the delay in clearance has left traders worried. “Traders are waiting for the government’s nod. There is no clarity so far,” said Hishey Negi, president of Kinnaur Indo-China Trade Association.
“We don’t want to take any risk. Traders and mule owners are apprehensive to travel to the zero point midst the standoff at Doklam,” said Ishwar Negi, a resident of Tashi Gang village along the Sino-India border.
How the trade is conducted
Traders apply for passes at the tehsildhar’s office in Pooh. These are then scrutinised by central agencies. Once the applications are cleared, traders travel by road to Namgya, 22 kilometers from Pooh, and then to the border village of Chuppan. Once here, they then head to the zero point on the international border. A six-hour trek takes them to Shipki, a village in China-controlled Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Border trade’s history
Trade through the Shipki pass commenced in 1994 after India and China signed a bilateral treaty. Himachal Pradesh shares a 280-kilometre-long border with China.
Some of the products that Indians trade here include agricultural implements, blankets, copper products, clothes, textiles, cycles, coffee, tea, barley, rice, flour, dry fruit, dry and fresh vegetables, vegetable oil, jaggery and tobacco.
Traders have been repeatedly urging the Centre to create more facilities at the Namgya trading point in India. Traditionally trade with Tibet was carried out under the barter system. In 2013, the Centre expanded the trading list which enhanced the trade’s volume and the cross-border trade recorded a turnover of Rs 7.32 crore. Trade was at its peak in 2015 when the turnover exceeded Rs 9.38 crore. The demonetisation move announced by the Modi government had its impact on the cross-border trade as well.