India to open first integrated check post along Bangladesh border

    By IANS,

    Agartala : India’s second international-standard multi-use Integrated Check Post (ICP) and the first along the Bangladesh border will be opened to people at Akhaurah in Tripura Nov 17, officials said here Friday.

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    The first such ICP was inaugurated in Attari in Punjab along the Pakistan border by then union home minister P. Chidambaram in April last year.

    Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde will Nov 17 inaugurate the Akhaurah ICP, built at a cost of Rs.73.5 crore, a Tripura government official said.

    Its foundation stone was laid by Chidambaram in May 2011.

    “The multi-purpose ICPs would boost trade with neighbouring countries, besides facilitating trans-border passenger traffic,” an official of the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) told IANS.

    “Trade between India and Pakistan through ICP at Attari increased a lot after it was opened 18 months ago,” the official said.

    “Trade and movement of people between Bangladesh and India’s northeastern states would increase by a large extent after the opening of the Akhaurah ICP. This is the first of its kind along the Bangladesh border,” he said.

    The Akhaurah land customs station deals with around 4,500 people every month travelling between the two countries.

    It is the second biggest land port along the Bangladesh border after the Petrapole-Benapole check post in West Bengal.

    Akhaurah is one of the most important international trading land ports in eastern India, with an average of 200 Bangladeshi trucks loaded with goods entering Tripura every day.

    A high-level 18-member inter-ministerial team led by Gouri Kumar, secretary, border management, recently inspected the Akhaurah ICP, two km west of the Tripura capital.

    Officials in the team included Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran and LPAI chairman Y.S. Shahrawat.

    “In the first phase, seven ICPs are being set up at Raxaul and Jogbani (in Bihar) along the border with Nepal, Attari (in Punjab) along the border with Pakistan, Moreh (in Manipur) along the border with Myanmar and Akhaurah (in Tripura), Dawki (in Meghalaya) and Petrapole (in West Bengal) along the border with Bangladesh,” said an official report of the union home ministry.

    “The ICPs are being commissioned to secure India’s borders against interests hostile to the country and to put in place systems that would interdict such elements while facilitating legitimate trade and commerce and as a part of an overall strategy for more improved border management,” the report said.

    The ICPs, being built at expenditures ranging from Rs.35 crore to Rs.170 crore – with a total outlay of Rs.635 crore – would be sanitised zones with dedicated passenger and cargo terminals and space for regulatory agencies besides necessary modern facilities under one roof.

    “The setting up of 13 ICPs along India’s international border is a major initiative which the Centre has undertaken as part of a scheme envisaged during the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12) at a cost of Rs.635 crore,” the home ministry report added.

    Besides passenger terminal buildings, customs and immigration facilities, weigh bridges, security and scanning equipment, currency exchange booths, internet facility, cargo process building, cargo inspection sheds, warehouse and cold storage, health and quarantine facilities, clearing agents, banks, scanners, closed circuit television, public address systems, isolation bay, parking, cafeteria, hotels and other public utilities would be available.

    India shares a 4,096 km border with Bangladesh, 3,323 km with Pakistan, 1,751 km with Nepal and 1,643 km with Myanmar.

    Like the Airports Authority of India, the government had set up the LPAI in 2010 to supervise construction work, maintenance and control of the ICPs.