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Posted at: Sep 13, 2017, 1:55 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2017, 1:55 AM (IST)

Indo-Pak trade hit as coolies strike work

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 12

Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan through the Integrated Check Post (ICP) has suffered a roadblock as the “coolies” (labourers) have stopped loading and unloading work.

The situation arose due to the “lackadaisical” attitude of the Centre Warehousing Corporation (CWC), appointed as custodian of the ICP by the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI).

Revising the manual handling charges w.e.f. September 11, 2017, the CWC had issued a circular that no handling tariff would be charged against the loose cargo (gypsum) arrived in the vehicles fitted with hydraulic unloading system. Similarly, there will be no handling charges in case of trucks being exported directly where no customs examination was required.

The coolies contested it and halted the lifting operations. This has led to piling up of cement, gypsum and dry fruits worth crores at the ICP sheds.

Traders say they have been facing losses as goods worth over Rs 200 crore have been lying on the Pakistani side too and commodities worth Rs 100 crore have piled up at the ICP.

CWC Regional Manager Anurag Tripathi said the matter would be resolved amicably by tomorrow. “Since 2012, the coolies were charging the wages for mechanical lifting, sudden withdrawal of which has invited resistance. We are in talks with them,” he added.

This is not for the first time that the coolies have gone on strike. At least 2,000 coolies have been working at the ICP. They have been demanding “undue” wages against the mechanical lifting of goods, where no physical labour is required. Traders of cement, gypsum and limestone have to pay mechanical cost as well as labour cost.

Several rounds of meetings have taken place over the issue, but there was no headway. A meeting of traders was held today also with the officials of CWC and Customs, but it didn’t reach any logical conclusion.

Anil Mehra, president of the Federation of Dry Fruit and Karyana Commercial Association, said the problem could be solved if coolies were put under Customs department, as was the earlier practice. “Earlier, the coolies were under the control of the Customs wing. They had a fear of losing their job. Since ICP came into picture, they were put under the CWC, which is lenient,” he added.

Goods worth crores pile up at ICP port 

  • Traders say they are facing losses as goods worth over Rs 200 crore have been lying on the Pakistani side too and commodities worth Rs 100 crore have piled up at the ICP
  • The coolies halted the lifting operations after the Centre Warehousing Corporation revised the manual handling charges.


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