September 20, 2016 10:21 AM NPT
By: Barun Paneru
DADELDHURA, Sept 19: Though it has already been a decade since the Maoist insurgency ended, 10 out of 13 customs points along country’s western border has yet to be restored.
This has led to rise in smuggling of goods through porous borders, according to locals.
“Large volume of daily consumables, mostly tobacco products, illegally enter the country from India every day,” Ramesh Paneru, a resident of Parashuram Municipality-6, said.
“Absence of small customs is increasing such illegal imports.”
Out of 13 small custom office closed during insurgency, only Mahakali Small Customs Office of Baitadi, Darchula Small Customs Office of Darchula and Belauri Small Customs of Kanchanpur have resumed operation. These customs offices were closed citing security reasons.
A team of Department of Customs had conducted a study two years ago for reopening all the customs offices. But the country is losing revenue to the tune of Rs 120 million annually because of the government indecision regarding reopening of these customs offices.
Unhindered import of eggs and chickens without any quarantine test is putting local people at risk, according to livestock experts. Existing laws ban import of poultry products without quarantine test.
Indian poultry products are entering Nepal through Tribhuvan Basti and Parasan of Kanchanpur, according to Dal Bahadur Dhami, a local of Kanchanpur. “Products like incense sticks and tobacco products enter into Nepal in large volume through those areas,” added Dhami.
Local residents of Kanchanpur, Dadheldhura, Baitadi and Darchula have complained that they were facing difficulty in bringing daily essential commodities from India in the absence of small customs offices in their respective areas. However, smugglers are bringing goods unhindered, they say.
“Smugglers manage to bring goods from India by bribing police personnel of both Nepal and India,” Suresh Bhatta, a resident of Rupal VDC of Dadeldhura, said. “Commoners who buy their daily consumables in India, however, face unnecessary hassles from security personnel of both the countries.”
About 20,000 residents of Rupal, Shirsha, Jogbudha and Bhageswor VDCs of Dadeldhura, over 40,000 of 16 VDCs of Baitadi, and about 25,000 people of 7 VDCs of Darchula are facing problems because of the absence of small customs offices as they have to depend on the Indian markets for their daily consumables.
They have made repeated pleas to the authorities concerned to take needful initiatives for reopening small customs offices. But looks like their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.