M A I N   N E W S

Response to Muzaffarabad bus disappoints Azad
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Kamaan Bridge, February 20
Disappointed over “little enthusiasm” in the movement of people across the LoC by Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad here today said that trade along the route would be started within a couple of months. He said that items for export to PoK and other areas had been identified and efforts were on to further improve the infrastructure along Uri and Poonch routes to the other side of the borders.

The Chief Minister was addressing visiting medi-persons here this afternoon after inaugurating the new Kamaan Aman Setu or peace bridge connecting two sides of Kashmir. The Science and Technology Minister and local MLA, Mr Taj Mohiuddin, Lieut Gen S.S. Dhillon, GOC 15 Corps and other senior Army, civil and police officers were present on the occasion. However, the event lacked enthusiasm on the other side of the Aman Setu, where the road has been repaired and made traffic-worthy after devastation during the earthquake of October 8 last year. The 6 Engineer Regiment of the Army completed the construction of massive abutment on PoK side, along with repairs to the piers in about two months, to reconnect the bridge over Khaaliana Da Khas Nallah.

Mr Azad said that though the Governments of India and Pakistan were making efforts that the historic opening of bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad did not remain limited, there was “not much enthusiasm as expected.

There was much nois “Naara ziada tha josh kum tha” (more slogan and less enthusiasm), Azad said. There was no problem to increase the frequency of the bus service from the present fortnightly to weekly basis, Mr Azad said. He, however, pointed out that only 831 people had crossed over between the two sides via Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus that began on April 7 last year. The Chief minister said that these included 391, 86 of them after the last earthquake, who crossed over from this side, and 440 of whom 92 crossed over from PoK.

He claimed that many people from here wanted to come back within the first two weeks, while 80 per cent of people from the other side either wanted to extend their visas or wanted to stay here permanently. He said that out of 52 persons who had crossed over to PoK before the October 8 earthquake, two had died, while others returned. On the other hand out of 41 from PoK stranded in Jammu and Kashmir, 40 had already returned while the other continued to stay here on court orders.

The Chief Minister said that three items, fresh fruit, dry fruit and handicraft items, for export to the others side, had been identified that would go from Uri road to PoK. He added that the aim was to develop trade links between the two sides and foreign-level talks had been conducted recently in this direction. The trade links would be opened via Uri-Chakoti and Poonch routes for which modalities were being worked out. The infrastructure, both along the Kamaan bridge and Chakhandabagh in Poonch district of Jammu region, was being improved to facilitate the trade.


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