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Cross-LoC trade to be strengthened, people-to-people contacts need to go beyond divided families: Mufti 

SALAMABAD, JUNE 04: Describing cross-LoC travel as one of the most significant CBMs between India and Pakistan, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today said the people-to-people contacts need to go beyond divided families. For this, he urged upon the Central Government to consider greater and hassle-free to-and-fro movement of cultural troupes, students, pilgrims and tourists across the Line of Control.

The Chief Minister said this during his visit to Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), Salamabad, Uri, where he announced several decisions to strengthen the cross-LoC trade and travel. He also visited Kaman Post, 10 years after cross-LoC travel began in 2005 during his first tenure as the Chief Minister of the State.

Mufti Sayeed is also scheduled to visit Chakan da Bagh, in Poonch, tomorrow to take similar review of the cross-LoC trade and travel.

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Minister for Industries & Commerce, Chander Parkash, GoC, 15 Corps, Lt. Gen. Subrata Saha, Financial Commissioner, Industries & Commerce, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, Joint Secretary (K), MHA, Rajit Punhani, Joint Secretary, MEA, Rudrendra Tandon, Director General of Police, K. Rajendra, Principal Secretary, Home, R. K Goyal, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Samoon, DC Baramulla, Director, I&C, Kashmir, besides several other senior officers of Home and I&C Department accompanied the Chief Minister.

In a high-level meeting to strengthen cross-LoC trade and travel held at Salamabad, the Chief Minister directed the Principal Secretary, Home, to coordinate with MHA and expedite the clearance of proposed visit of trade delegation to Muzaffarabad for trade-related discussions. It was informed in the meeting that two trade delegations from across have already visited J&K. However, no delegation from this side has paid a reciprocal visit.

The Joint Secretary, MEA, stated that the matter will be taken up in the next meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) between India and Pakistan.

On the issue of multiple-entry permit for cross-LoC travellers, the Chief Minister issued directions to Home Department to examine the issue in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs.

The Chief Minister observed that telecom and banking facilities are vital to conduct of cross-LoC trade. He requested the Central Government to take up the issues related to banking facilities in the next meeting of Joint Working Group between India and Pakistan.

The Chief Minister also desired that the modalities between MHA and BSNL should be finalized soon to provide ISD facility to traders on both sides of the LoC.

Mufti Sayeed further emphasized that the demands of the traders for including additional items in the tradable list should be finalized in the meeting of the Joint Working Group at an earliest so that the scope of cross-LoC trade is further broadened.

The Chief Minister also directed that a Single Window Clearance Mechanism should be immediately put in place to ensure hassle-free movement of passengers and trucks. For this purpose, SDM Uri was tasked to perform additional duties as Nodal Officer, till such time regular arrangement is made.

Placing high priority on development of infrastructure facilities for all stakeholders, the Chief Minister asked MD JKTDC to work out the modalities for transfer of land for setting up of residential accommodation for officers of civil and police administration, which are essentially required to be stationed at Salamabad.

Mufti Sayeed also assigned J&K Police the responsibility of providing fool-proof security clearance to trucks at Salamabad, as per the SoP. He also directed MD, JKTDC to make the cafeteria within the TFC premises functional immediately.

The Chief Minister directed the authorities to make suitable arrangements for parking of vehicles at TFC Salamabad and creation of additional Hall. He urged upon the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs to sanction detailed project for infrastructure up-gradation, in particular, procurement of full body scanners to make movement of people and goods across the LoC smooth.

It was given out in the meeting that the Ministry of MEA will take up in the next Joint Working Group meeting, the issue of proper sealing and dispatch of trucks to eliminate chances of loading of contrabands that hinder cross-LoC trade.

Financial Commissioner, I&C, gave a detailed presentation about the status of cross-LoC trade. He informed the Chief Minister that cumulatively, items worth Rs. 1700 crore have been exported and Rs. 1400 crore imported via Salamabad in Uri while trade out and trade in figures for Chakan da Bagh, Poonch, stand at Rs. 500 crore and Rs. 460 crore respectively.

The Chief Minister also interacted with the representatives of business community, who highlighted several issues connected to the strengthening of cross-LoC trade.

During his visit to Kaman Post, Mufti Sayeed issued directions for upgrading facilities for travellers to expedite immigration clearance and canteen facilities.

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