Paki bans onion export through its land route

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Chandigarh: Pakistan has imposed a complete ban on the export of onion to India via Wagah-Attari land route, a development which may hit Centre`s efforts in rein in skyrocketing prices of bulb in the country.

"Pakistan government has banned the supply of onion to India via land route," Customs Department (Amritsar) Deputy Commissioner R K Duggal said today, while adding that today no truck was allowed to bring onion by Pakistan authorities following the ban.

Local traders attributed the imposition of ban on export of onion by Pakistan government to prevent any spiralling hike in bulb prices in the neighbouring country.

Sudden ban imposed on export of onion has hit the traders of both the countries with Indian importers claiming that Pakistan had not even allowed the supply of almost 1,500 tonnes of contracted orders of onion.

"Almost 1,500 tonne of onion was yet to be supplied to us but Pakistan government has not allowed the local suppliers to fulfil their trade obligation," rued Anil Mehra, Amritsar-based vegetable merchant.

According to custom officials, between 100-150 trucks laden with onion were not allowed to enter Indian territory at Amritsar by Pakistan authorities on Wednesday and asked to return.

"When custom authorities (of Pakistan) have already given clearance to contracted supply of onion heading for India then why they (Pakistan) have stopped the supply," asked Mehra, whose 250 tonnes of onion imported from Pakistan got stuck following the implementation of ban.

Though Indian custom authorities claim that onion supply from Pakistan was allowed through rail route yet importers argued that Pakistan had banned onion export except sea route.

"Pakistan order clearly says no supply of onion will take place except sea route," traders asserted claiming that vegetable suppliers in Pakistan were agitating against imposition of ban on onion export.

Notably, close to 7,000 tonnes of onion had arrived since the commencement of onion export to India from Pakistan via land route. Because of the supply of Pakistan onion, prices of onion in Punjab and Chandigarh had come down from a level of Rs 60-65 per kg to Rs 45-50 per kg.

Even the Centre had abolished the custom duty on import of onion in order to rein in spiralling rates of bulb.

India and Pakistan had agreed to start cross border movement of trucks in the month of October 2007 after a gap of sixty years from Attari Check post at Amritsar in India to Wagah border in Pakistan with an intention of boosting bilateral trade.

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