New integrated checkpost opened at Attari, to boost Indo-Pak trade

Attari (Punjab), April 13 (IANS) Trade between India and Pakistan through the land border route is expected to go up almost 10 times with the formal inauguration Friday of the newly-constructed integrated check post (ICP) at Attari, along the international border between the two neighbours.

The ICP was inaugurated by union Home Minister P. Chidambaram in the presence of Pakistan's Commerce Minister Mohammed Amin Fahim, Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, and union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, among others.

'I am very happy that the ICP project has been completed and made operational on the auspicious day of Baisakhi,' Badal said.

He urged the governments of India and Pakistan to 'also open trade from the Hussainiwala border (in Ferozepur district)'.

The ICP, 30 km from Amritsar (280 km from Chandigarh) saw a soft launch Sunday prior to its formal inauguration Friday.

The new ICP, spread over nearly 120 acres and built at a cost of nearly Rs.150 crore, will have state-of-the-art facilities with dedicated terminals for cargo and passengers.

The ICP will have 16 immigration counters and 12 customs counters. Among other facilities, the ICP will also have a helipad for emergency needs.

A senior official of the union department of border management said the ICP will have a dedicated cargo area of 4,700 sq.m. It will also have an area of 55,000 sq.m. for parking of trucks.

'The whole area will be continuously monitored by 230 CCTV cameras installed at the ICP premises,' the official said.

Trade between both sides is nearly $2.5 billion, but is expected to go up 10 times with Pakistan initiating the process to accord most favoured nation (MFN) status to India for trade.