Logistics

Customs wants better rail link thru Petrapole

Pratim Ranjan Bose Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on April 03, 2013

In an attempt to promote bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh, the customs authorities have proposed expansion of rail capacities at Petrapole in West Bengal.

Petrapole (land customs station) accounts for more than half of the $4-billion (nearly double the trade volume with Pakistan) bilateral trade between the two nations.

While the trade volume is highly skewed in India’s favour (exports accounting for nearly $3.5 billion), imports are now on the rise following the recent removal of trade barriers on a number of items, including textiles and betel nut. Keeping in viewthe improved trade outlook, the Centre has already undertaken a Rs 200-crore project to expand the terminal’s capacity from 900 trucks to 2,500 trucks a day.

However, the entire plan may come a cropper in the face of inadequate road connectivity in West Bengal.

Petrapole is connected by a single lane road (NH-35) with poorly maintained NH-34 — connecting Kolkata with North Bengal — 61 km away at Barasat. To hit the golden quadrangle (NH-2 and NH-6), truckers need to travel another 30 km towards Kolkata through the narrow and potholed NH-34.

As a result, cargo movement through Petrapole is abysmally slow. With Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal Government refusing to acquire land, there is little scope to improve the road connectivity either.

According to sources, as an alternative, the customs recently proposed promoting rail transport for the movement of cargo through Petrapole.

A proposal to double the existing single line connectivity through Petrapole, thrown open only for cargo movement since 2001, is now awaiting consideration of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

>pratim.bose@thehindu.co.in

>abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in

Published on April 03, 2013
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