Bhutan boulder export to BD hits bump in Indian territory

FE Report | Published: June 11, 2018 10:59:15 | Updated: June 12, 2018 16:14:35

The growing export of Bhutanese boulders to Bangladesh has faced some problems recently while crossing the Indian territory.

In two such incidents, boulder trucks were stopped in the Indian territory and charges were realised.

The export of Bhutanese boulders to Bangladesh increased more than 500 per cent in the last one year.

In one of the incidents recently, more than 150 boulder trucks were held at Fulbari on the Indian border with Bangladesh.

Locals stopped the trucks without any specific reason, reports the leading Bhutanese daily Kuensel in its online edition on Saturday.

The trucks remained stuck up there until the problem was resolved 10 days later on May 29.

A proprietor of a transport company in Phuentsholing said the problem was solved when the government offices stepped in.

He said two of his staff had gone to Fulbari with Phuentsholing officials to resolve the matter.

The proprietor said the problem cropped up for various reasons.

"India also exports boulders to Bangladesh but Bhutanese boulders are preferred, which could have agitated the locals," he said.

He also said Bangladesh prefers boulders from Bhutan, because there is a tax benefit, reports the Kuensel.

In 2017, Bhutan exported 1.84 million tonnes of stone chips and boulders to Bangladesh.

In 2016, the export of boulders and stone chips stood at only 249,800 tonnes worth US$ 3.65 million.

Bhutan Exporters Association general secretary Tshering Yeshi said such problems happen quite often.

"We coordinate meetings with relevant agencies at the border visiting their offices and inform our government agencies," he said.

In the recent incident, Phuentsholing and Kolkata offices concerned had intervened and resolved the problem, he added.

Meanwhile, another transporter Sonam Jamtsho of KRC Transport said four of his trucks had been remaining stuck up at Hasimara across the border since the evening on June 6.

"Boulders in those trucks belong to STCBL," he said.

"It is a loss for both transporters and the government," he added.

Sonam Jamtsho also said vehicle documents like seizure receipts were not provided.

He alleged that the counterpart traffic officials were charging Nu 30,000 to 40,000 for release of the trucks.

About the trucks held at Fulbari, he said the transporters had to pay Nu 7,000 to 10,000 to traffic inspectors for their release.

However, sources said these are charges for overload, which is legit or legal.

Bhutan truckers' committee chairman BB Tamang said the country enjoys excellent trade relations with both India and Bangladesh.

"Boulder exports have increased in recent years," he said.

Few problems are bound to arise, he added.

"We always cooperate with the counterpart officials," he stated.

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