'Who will be responsible if this huge movement of transport and people driving them and loading and unloading of trucks add the spread of the virus'
Trade between India and Bangladesh resumed on Thursday through the Petrapole-Benapole corridor, but West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee appeared less than happy.
“How can the Indian central government take a decision like this without consulting our state government,” Mamata said, reports The Eastern Link.
“Who will be responsible if this huge movement of transport and people driving them and loading and unloading of trucks add the spread of the virus! Why is Delhi never discussing these issues with us Our state may be affected badly,” she said.
The Petrapole-Benapole corridor on West Bengal’s border with Bangladesh’s Jessore accounts for nearly 60% of the $4-billion bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh. The land port has gone to sleep since both India and Bangladesh enforced nationwide lockdown to check the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a study by RITES an engineering consultancy company, specializing in the field of transport infrastructure, the goods traffic is approximately 400 trucks per day both ways, while the 2006 passenger traffic was about 1,159 people per day (both incoming and outgoing).
The total traffic in 2029-30 has been projected as 2,938 trucks per day and the passenger traffic by then will be 3,924 people per day.
Since the flow of trucks from the Indian side is much more than the one from Bangladesh to India, a huge row of trucks have been stranded at Petrapole on the Indian side due to the sudden declaration of the lockdown by PM Narendra Modi on 24 March.
President of the Carrying & Forwarding (C&F) agents association at Petrapole, Kartick Chakrabarty, welcomed the Indian government’s decision to resume trade through this land port.
“Perishables are already rotting in the trucks. With thousands of trucks stranded and the drivers and assistants stuck, it is a horrible situation. How can one practice social distancing to check Covid-19 virus if so many people are forced to stay in such a small corridor,” Kartick said.