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Indian traders demand resumption of border trade with China through Lipulekh pass

Indian traders demand resumption of border trade with China through Lipulekh pass
Indian traders involved in border trade with China through the Lipulekh pass in Pithoragarh district since 1992, have requested the central government to take up the issue of resumption of border trade through this route with Beijing. The trade route was closed rather suddenly after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019, forcing Indian traders to return from the Taklakot mart in Tibet leaving behind their woollen products.

Five years have passed but the route has not been opened, an organisation of border traders in Dharchula said.

The traders who belong to the Bhotia tribe started to raise their demand for reopening of the trade route through Lipulekh after China recently began the process of implementing a pact, in which it had agreed to open all 14 trade passes with Nepal.

The implementation of the agreement inked by China and Nepal in December, 2022 began on May 25 this year, when China opened Piangi pass situated in Dolpa district of eastern Nepal, president of Bharat Tibetan Simant Vyapar Samiti, Dharchula Jeewan Singh Rongkali said.

Three more passes along the Indo-Tibet border in the western region of Nepal that fall in the districts of Humla, Bajang and Darchula will be opened on June 20, 30 and 25 respectively, he said.

"We have so far sent 22 applications to the government of India requesting it to take up with the Chinese authorities the reopening of the trade route through Lipulekh pass but have received no response so far," Rongkali said.

According to Rongkali, Indian tribal traders from Dharchula alone have left trading items worth Rs 15 lakh in Taklakot Mart of Tibet at the time of closure of border trade in 2019, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We have no information if our stored goods are safe or in a state of decay. They were stored in plywood covers at the time of closure of trade," Rongkali said.

"We want trade with China to be resumed through Lipulekh pass but if for some reason it is not possible then the traders should be given 15 days' time to go to Taklakot to ring back their goods," he said.

Goods of over 450 Indian tribal traders have been lying there for the last 5 years, he said.

According to Rongkali, over 450 Indian traders used to supply essential goods to villagers of over 45 villages of western Tibet through this trade route since 1992.

"Out of over 1.5 crore trade annually, we have paid lakhs of rupees towards customs duty and other taxes to the government of India," said Rongkali.

China announced in the year 2022 that it will build trans Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity with Nepal to restructure the road and communication network with that country, Rongkali said.

"As China has not given permission to open our passes along the Indo-China border, we have an apprehension that the mart made for Indian traders in Gakkhu town of Taklakot could be handed over to Nepalese traders," said Rongkali.


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