Another train to Pakistan?
If an ongoing talks between India and Pakistan bear fruit, yet another train between the two countries will be a reality soon. However, this train, which will pass through the Rajasthan border, is expected to carry only goods, and not passengers.The expectations of the trader community in Rajasthan about the new train are quite high in view of the opening of a new trade link between India and Pakistan across the J & K border in October.In fact, a goods train used to ply on this desert track till 1965 but following the tension between the two countries, it was disbanded. This train ferried onion, garlic, beetle leaves, beetle nuts etc. from India and leathergoods like foot gears, dry fruits, spices etc. from Pakistan. Recently, after the commissioning of the Thar Express and resumption of normalcy between the two neighbours, the idea of a train has been mooted again with industrial bodies of Jodhpur led by Laghu Udhyog Bharti (LUB) putting pressure on the government. National secretary of LUB, Ghanshyam Ojha, said that though they had demanded five additional bogies to be attached with Thar Express, owing to security reasons, the demand could not be met. Apart from this, everybody was suspicious of the future of the Thar Express then, he added. But now the LUB has strongly put forward the idea of a train with at least 20 bogies. Ojha said that since the railway board has agreed in principle, they are hopeful of resumption of the train very soon.General manager, Northwestern Railways, Ashok Gupta also confirmed that talks are in progress. According to Gupta, the railways had already sent a feedback report to higher authorities but there is no development after that. It will also be examined by customs and security agencies, the nod of whom will carry a great value. Divisional railway manager, Sunil Kumar Sood said that though the trade between the two countries is continuing through Panjab via Attari border, it is restricted to cement only. Cement is roughly Rs 100 cheaper in Pakistan. India importing it from Pakistan has logic and according to Sood, the same can be a vital commodity in this route too. Once started, the train will benefit not only the state but other neighbouring states also, he said.The product range now includes handicraft, steel utensils and sheets, imitation jewellery, stone, engineering items, beetle leaves, henna, cosmetics, textile goods and medicines etc. Then the country will be able to enjoy the Most Favoured Country (MFC) status accorded by Pakistan, he said.In fact, transportation of goods is vital operation of Thar Express. Earlier, the extent of the goods that could be carried by the passengers was upto 100 kg in the beginning but now it have been restricted to 35 kg, said Sood. Some passengers, mostly Pakistanis, meet their travel expense by selling goods which they bring from their respective countries, Ojha said.
Labels: India Pakistan Rajasthan