Gangtok, Sep 02: Merchants in Sikkim want the Centre to help some more towards Sino-India border trade via Nathula, which resumed in 2006 after the 1962 war.
Sonam Topgay, president of the Nathula Traders Welfare Assciation, said, 'The Sherathang mart (Indian side) has seen a bit of expansion. But Chinese Traders say they prefer something better and bigger. In 2006 our government constructed 27 shops in place of a stable for the ponies. We were allotted 20 shops and a few given to the Chinese traders.
'The previous unmetalled road meant for Tibetan ponies and Chinese horses had been converted to asphalt ones by the Chinese,' Topgay told UNI recently.
'This season the Union government allotted four shops to the Chinese traders. While the Chinese have constructed about 130 shops and allotted 50 show rooms to us. They are ready to let us stay there for four days at a stretch. But since it depends on the Centre, traders from Sikkim have not accepted the offer,' Topgay said.
He wanted government intervention in clearing road blocks due to snowfall. 'We collect money to pay for clearing the road,’ Topgay said, adding ' the main challenge faced by the trader fraternity is the Road from Gangtok 0 mile to Nathula.’
He also wants the government to include jute items in the permitted export list.
‘I have been exporting Copper prayer items and Handicraft. The Chinese like bamboo sofa sets.They have a great demand of jute mattresses and other jute products,' Topgay added.
However, he said there had been an increase in the number of items traded from 40 to 100 at his request from August 25.
The Chinese also like Indian biscuits, tea, rice, cooking oil and vegetables.
The border trade is being encouraged by the Indian and Chinese Governments for uplifting the economy.
Trading is getting lucrative year after year. Export and import has increased manifold since 2006. That year the import figure stood at Rs 6.88 lakhs and export at Rs 27.87 lakhs. In 2016 the figures were Rs 1930.06 lakhs and Rs 6338.36 lakhs respectively.
However, the Doklam issue impacted business in 2017 and import slumped to Rs 102.07 lakhs and export at Rs 783.60 lakhs. (UNI)