India and Bangladesh have opened immigration offices on their respective sides of the Fulbari-Banglabandha border point, the route for bilateral trade between Nepal and Bangladesh.
The setting up of the offices has enabled passenger movement through the route -- so far being used only for cargo movement. Earlier, Chyangrabandha was the only surface entry point to Bangladesh for Nepalis.
With the signing of a Letter of Exchange between Nepal and India on Saturday, the southern neighbour has removed several restrictions on Nepal-Bangladesh trade through this route. So far, trucks carrying Nepali goods (not less than 25 at a time) could travel to Bangladesh through India only in the day time and under Indian police’s escort. But now, Nepal and Bangladesh can do trade based on documents.
Gautam Dev, minister for North-Bengal development under the government of West Bengal, said the setting op of the immigration offices would help boost trade and tourism. “Both India and Nepal will benefit,” he said.
To enable the people’s movement through this route, India and Bangladesh have signed an agreement. Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Indian State Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs VK Singh, West Bengal’s Minister in-charge for Department of Municipal Affairs Firhad Hakim, Gautam Dev and Member of India’s Parliament from Darjeeling SS Ahluwalia attended the signing ceremony.
As per a trilateral accord signed in 1998, India has been allowing Nepal to use the Kakarbhitta-Fulbari-Bangalabandha route for its bilateral trade with Bangladesh. But in 2011, India too started trading with Bangladesh through this route.
Nepal exports pulses, animal feed, herbs and vegetables to Bangladesh, while it imports cotton waste, medicine, cosmetics, battery, fabric, juice, potato, milk powder, biscuits, raw juice, tube-light and lubricants, among others.
Yadav Shiwakoti, chief of the Transport and Warehouse Management Company, Kakadbhitta, said while India exports mainly construction materials to Bangladesh through this border, its import is almost nil.
Banglabandha, which just 40 km from the Nepal border, is one of the shortest land routes to Bangladesh. Earlier, people had to travel to Chyangrabandha to visit Bangladesh.
Dilip Timsina, who has been trading with Bangladesh, said people could now visit Bangladesh and return to Nepal in a single day.
Copyright Asian News Network/The Kathmandu Post