KOLKATA: India has decided to transport essentials to Bangladesh through rail as the West Bengal government strongly objected to movement of trucks to the neighbouring country through the state.
A goods train carrying onion and other essentials left for Bangladesh from India recently, said a spokesperson of the Bangladesh’s high commission in India.
The West Bengal government and the Centre crossed swords over resumption of flow of trucks through the state’s integrate land port at Benapole, in North 24 Parganas district.
Union home ministry since April 24 has been repeatedly asking the West Bengal government to resume cross border transportation of essentials
Home secretary Ajay Bhalla on May 5 worte to chief scretary Rajiva Sinha “It has been reported that goods traffic through border crossings between India and Bangladesh, falling in the State of West Bengal, has still not resumed. As a result, a large number of trucks carrying essential supplies bound for Bangladesh, are stranded at different border crossing points. A number of drivers of such vehicles, while returning from Bangladesh, have also not been allowed to cross the border, and are stranded in Bangladesh.”
But due to resistance from local people and the state government, the movement did not start even today (May 11).
Over 200 trucks are stranded in the integrated check post.
The state government cite growing cases of Covid-19 positive in Bangladesh to justify its objection.
“Who will be responsible if due to this movement of transport spread the virus through people driving the trucks and loading and unloading goods,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee told media expressing her government’s concern.
Bangladesh has 14,657 total confirm cases of Covid-19.
The integrated check post at Petrapole in North 24 Parganas district is the largest land customs station in Asia. The land port accounts for nearly 60 percent of the India’s $4-billion trade with Bangladesh.
Though in the past too goods were ferried through trains, trucks are generally the preferred mode4 of transportation of goods between the two countries.
About 450 trucks enter Bangladesh through Petrapol ICP every day.