English | Dzongkha Thursday, March 4, 2021

Boulder export from Gelegphu not up to the mark

Jan 8, 2021

Boulder export from Gelegphu to Bangladesh resumed in November last year, but it has never been able to regain its normal pace even until now. Most of the exporters have now suspended the export due to risks along the 350 kilometres highway through the Assam and Meghalaya states

Of 67 registered exporters, only 15 are exporting today. Of them, 12 export stone aggregates and boulders to India while two export to Bangladesh. Truckers have to ferry boulders to Nakugaon port which is located at the India and Bangladesh border, crossing six districts of Assam and Meghalaya. 

The areas according to them are accident-prone and they have to bear undocumented travelling expenses. An exporter Chencho Gyeltshen said, ”local mobs and non-profit organisations along the way collect high extortion fees which affect our business.” 

To discuss a way forward, a consultative meeting was also held between the Revenue and Customs officials and the Bhutan Export Association (BEA) last month. Officials proposed the exporters to submit the details of all expenses along the way so that they can work out modalities to include it in the expenses as a deductible amount while filing the tax.

However, the best and feasible way forward is to open a new trade route. 

Exporters are asking the government to open a new trade route from Jogighopa under Chirang district of Assam state, in consultation with the Indian government. Jogighopa is just 90 kilometres from Gelegphu. 

”Nakugoan is not feasible for boulder export. The new trade route will ease the issues truckers face along the old route,” said Dotila, another exporter. 

BEA in consultation with relevant stakeholders is yet to open new trade routes from Agartala, Jogighopa, and Pandu. Once these routes open, it will immensely benefit the smooth export of boulders. 

Meanwhile, in just a span of two months, a total of 1,144 truckloads of boulders and aggregates were exported from Gelegphu of which 48 truckloads were exported to Bangladesh.

Boulder export from Gelegphu was suspended for almost a year after the government came to know that truckers ferry 30 to 40 MT of boulders and declare only 15 MT in the paper. The COVID-19 pandemic also impeded the export. 

Karma Wangdi

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