Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Committed to opening more cross-LoC trade routes: J-K CM

Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government is committed to work with the Central government to open more trade routes across the Line of Control (LoC), Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Wednesday.
He said his government wants to facilitate more meaningful trade between the two parts of the state by providing effective banking links, simplifying the procedures and easing restrictions on the movement of men and material.
However, opening up of more routes across the LoC will become possible only after the two countries sign an enabling agreement, Abdullah told the state legislative assembly in a written reply to a question by Nazir Gurezi of the National Conference (NC).
He said in pursuance of decisions taken in the round table conference convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a working group on "strengthening relations across the LoC" was constituted.
The working group, among other things, recommended opening of additional routes across the LoC, which includes the Gurez-Astoor-Gilgit road, he said.
At present, trade activities and bus services across the LoC have been established via Chakan-da-Bagh in Poonch district and Salamabad in Baramulla district, he said.
In reply to another question by Sofi Abdul Gaffar of PDP, the Chief Minister said that 2,603 and 3,410 persons have been granted LoC permits for the Poonch-Rawalkote and Uri-Muzaffarabad routes respectively.
There are 1,277 applications pending with the passport offices in Jammu and Srinagar and 4,923 applications with PoK authorities for grant of such permits, he said.
On the steps to be taken for grant of LoC permits to aspirants other than members of divided families, Abdullah said a decision on the matter would have to be mutually arrived at by the governments of India and Pakistan.
Similar decisions have to be arrived by the governments of both countries on opening of Jammu-Sialkote, Jhangar-Mirpur and other routes to facilitate the movement of the members of divided families, he added. News Agencies

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