This undated photo shows the customs office in Pashupatinagar, Ilam. Bhim Chapagain/Republica
ILAM, Aug 18: Pashupatinagar Customs Office of Ilam is not getting business as there is no customs office in the Indian side.
Locals of Pashupatinagar, Suryodaya Muncipality and other parts of the district have been lobbying hard for operation of customs office at Pashupatinagar. However, their efforts have yet to bear fruits. They say opening of Pashupatinagar Customs Office will benefit locals of Ilam, Panchthar, Taplejung, Tehrathum, Sankhuwasabha and Dhankuta districts.
The customs office is also important as it is near the Mid-hill Highway which goes through mid hills from eastern to western parts of the country.
Locals of the area lament that concerned authorities have not realized the importance of having a functioning customs office at Pashupatinagar. “Smuggling of goods is on the rise due to lack of customs office. The country is losing substantial amount of revenue,” Milan Chhetri, a local entrepreneur, told Republica.
Ilam Chamber of Commerce and Industries had earlier requested the concerned authorities to open customs office at Pashupatinagar. Around 3,000 traders affiliated with the chamber had lobbied hard with the government authorities to bring the customs office into operation. “We have long been requesting the government to bring goods from neighboring India by paying customs duty,” Ananda Kattel, a former president of the chamber, told Republica. “But our demands seem to have fallen on deaf ears.”
Due to lack of customs office at Pashupatinagar, traders have been forced to use Kakarvitta and Biratnagar customs points for imports and exports.
As per the request of the local stakeholders, the government has opened immigration office at Pashupatinagar. However, the office is of no use as India has not opened immigration office in its side.
Though there is a full-fledged customs office at Pashupatinagar, it has not been able to provide services to traders as India only has customs check point. Export and import of goods through the point will be possible only after India opens Land Customs Office.
Pramod Rai, president of Suryodaya Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said that opening of customs office at Pashupatinagar would benefit local traders and farmers. “Not only traders of Ilam, it will make things easier for traders of other neighboring districts as well,” he said.