Border blockade hits Birgunj hard


Feb 4, 2016-

The town of Birgunj is losing its distinction as the major trade point between Nepal and India due to continuous border obstruction.  Business activities in the town have significantly dwindled as the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) has been obstructing the major customs point to press their demands. All Nepal-India border points have been relaxed, except Birgunj-Raxaul. 

After four months and 13 days of obstruction, five cargoes entered Birgunj from Raxaul for the first time on Wednesday. The officials of Raxaul customs let five cargoes laden with goods belonging to Nepal Army to pass as there were few protesters in the morning, sources told.

No other cargoes entered from the point thereafter. The border point is deserted as almost all Nepal-bound cargoes that were stuck across the border in Raxaul, India, have been rerouted from other border points.  

The importers are also filling  letter of credits to import the new consignments from other border points in future. Though the Indian Oil Corporation depot in Raxaul has started to refill Nepali fuel tankers in India. Those fuel tankers have been rerouted to Biratnagar-Jogbani border point. 

Meanwhile, the people in Birgunj have been compelled to face hardships due to the price hike of daily essentials. The Birgunj Customs Office has lost around Rs 45 billion in revenue after the border obstruction. 

Customs Chief Mitralal Regmi said the other border points have increased their revenue collection after the cargoes were rerouted from Birgunj-Raxaul border point. The production cost of materials has increased as the raw materials for industries in Birgunj Industrial Corridor started to import from other border points. “Business persons have started to expand their industries at Bhairahawa and Biratnagar Industrial Corridors,” said one of the business entrepreneurs in Birgunj. 

Some businessmen worry that investors will not make investment in Birgunj in the future if the situation continues. Senior Vice Chairman of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry Prakash Sharma said the blockade centralised in Birgunj has moved the business activities of the town back 15 years. “The industrial town has been adversely affected,” said Sharma, adding that the businessmen have been worried of their investment. 

Published: 04-02-2016 08:42

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