A portal developed by the West Bengal government and the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) has drastically reduced the waiting period for trucks from 30-40 days to just 24-48 hours at the Petrapole border, boosting Indo-Bangla trade, an official said on Thursday. Besides the ‘Suvidha’ (convenience) portal, some more infrastructural developments have taken place at Petrapole and the authorities are hopeful that the initiatives will lead to doubling of trade between the two countries in near future.
The majority of the trade between the two neighbours takes place via Petralpole integrated check post (ICP) in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district.
Earlier, for various reasons, it took drivers 30-40 days to cross the international border, Land Ports Authority of India (ICP Petrapole) manager Kamlesh Saini told PTI.
“Now, the Suvidha portal allows exporters to book preferred slots in advance. This ensures that trucks only arrive at the ICP on the day of their booking, thus reducing the waiting period to just 24-48 hours,” Saini said.
Rolled out in January, the web-based vehicle facilitation system “is likely to play a key role in doubling trade with the neighbouring country from the Petrapole land border in the future,” he said.
Suvidha has been developed in coordination with customs and the BSF of ICP Petrapole, the official said. ”Besides, some more infrastructural developments have taken place. These include an increase in the parking area to 1500–2000 trucks, construction of a transhipment yard and shed for import trucks and setting up of a fire station building. “The trade at the border will double from the current export of 400-450 trucks from Petrapole to Benapole (on the other side of the border) every day,” Saini said.
In 2021-22, total trade from Petrapole was Rs 29,405 crore with exports worth Rs 23,775 crore while imports were valued at Rs 5,630 crore from Bangladesh.
The success of ‘Suvida’ portal at Petrapole has led to its gradual rollout to other ICPs across West Bengal, such as Ghojadhanga, Mahadipur, Hili, Changrabandha and Fulbari land borders, officials said.
The portal has also made it possible for the government to track each vehicle and ensure a faster turnaround time, enabling exporters to grow their businesses and increase revenues.
”After implementing Suvida, the charges for truck parking by the state government have been raised steeply. But, as demurrage has reduced drastically from inordinate delays, exporters are happy,” an official of the Petrapole Exporters and Imports Association said.
“We are confident that these initiatives will attract more exporters to the region and further strengthen trade between the two nations,” Saini said.
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