CHANDIGARH – Trade through rail route between India and Pakistan has almost come to a halt due to non-availability of rail wagons, exporters have said.

Exporters said they had not been able to get sufficient rail wagons during last four weeks. They further said goods worth Rs 1,000 crore are held up at Amritsar railway station.

“We are not getting rail wagons for export of goods, which has significantly impacted export to Pakistan through rail network,” Amritsar-based exporter Rajiv Setia said.

Acknowledging wagon shortage, Deputy Commissioner of Customs (Amritsar), Vijay Bahadur said, “Export (to Pakistan through rail) is almost stalled. Against exports through 1,400 wagons in October, only 250 wagons went to Pakistan for exports”.

However, exporters claimed that they could get only 30-40 rail wagons against the requirement of 2,500 wagons during past 27-28 days despite requesting railways to provide more wagons.

Exporters said that problem of wagon shortage emerged when Pakistan-based traders stopped supplying cement via rail after the recovery of huge consignment of heroin in a cargo train. Over 140 kg of heroin has been seized during last five months in goods train coming from Pakistan, official sources said.

Exporters further said the cement laden wagons coming from Pakistan were being used for sending commodities from India to Pakistan for export. “Since goods train from Pakistan is not coming to India, we are not getting rail wagons for supply of exports,” another Amritsar-based exporter, Jaspal Singh, said.

He said there is a backlog of commodities, including polymer, spices, soyameal extract, tyres, etc worth Rs 1,000 crore which was meant for exports to neighbouring country.

A huge amount of import and export take place through the rail network between India and Pakistan. India exported goods worth Rs 1,127.87 crore via rail to Pakistan, while imports from Pakistan were worth Rs 274.09 crore during 2011-12, according to official data.

During the first seven months of the current fiscal, the export via rail stands at Rs 626.96 crore, a custom official said.

With exports not taking place, exporters are facing payment problems from their customers because of non-delivery of goods. “We have stopped taking new orders for exports because we are already facing payment problems as exports are hampered,” Setia said.

“On one hand, government is saying that exports to Pakistan should be increased and on the other hand it is not paying any attention to resolve the problem,” he added.

Railway DRM Ferozepur division, N C Goel, said: “exports have slowed down. We are trying to replace old rail rake with new one as soon as possible”.