Exports to Bangladesh through the land ports in West Bengal are yet to resume with around 5,000 trucks stuck at various locations along the border over quarantine fears despite the Indian government's announcement of easing restrictions, an official of the exporters' body said on June 2.
The state administration is not making any intervention to resolve the crisis, triggered by fear among truckers that they will be quarantined following their return from Bangladesh after unloading goods, Federation of Indian Exports Organisation's regional chairman (east) Sushil Patwari told, reports Economic Times.
The trucks are stranded for the last 70 days, causing losses running into crores of rupees, he said.
The trade between the two countries takes place through the land ports at Mahadipur in Malda district, Changrabandha in Cooch Behar, Fulbari (Jalpaiguri), Hilli (South Dinajpur), Ghojadanga and Petrapole in North 24- Parganas district.
"There is no change in the status of exports to Bangladesh or Nepal. Trucks remain stranded at the various borders. For Bangladesh, some 5,000 trucks are stuck at various land ports over quarantine fears. So far there has been no effective intervention from the state government regarding this," Patwari said.
Exporters thought that trade can resume as greater relaxations kicked in on June 1 and the truckers will be exempted from the strict quarantine norms.
There is a fear among drivers and helpers that they have to stay in 14-day mandatory quarantine after returning following unloading of their trucks.
Mahadipur Exporters Association on Tuesday wrote to the Customs Department, seeking directions to the local administration to resume the trade.
The state government allowed resumption of exports on May 11 following the Centre's notification on cross-border trade, but fear among locals over the spread of coronavirus from the returning truckers prevented trade to take off.
Even a plan to unload trucks at ground zero failed.
"We had advised full PPE for drivers and helpers and sanitisation of trucks but local administration is not willing to take the risk," Patwari said.
Federation of Indian Export Organisations on May 27 shot a letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee highlighting plights of the small exporters and raising apprehensions about thousands of job losses.
Even as talks have gained momentum over trade through rail road and waterways, exports are yet to begin.