The trade was stopped on May 2 after two days of operation following protests by local people
The Petrapole land port authorities are trying to hold meetings with local people and the state government to resume India-Bangladesh trade.
The trade was stopped on May 2 after two days of operation following protests by local people, officials said on Tuesday, Outlook India reported.
Villagers are afraid that truck drivers and laborers might spread coronavirus infection when they return from Benapole, located on the other side of the border and has been affected by the disease, they said.
Trade between the two neighbors via this land port in West Bengal''s North 24 Parganas district has been in deadlock over various issues including quarantine norms after India imposed the nationwide lockdown from March 25. According to rules, truckers have to go on a 14-day quarantine once they return from another country.
The trade had resumed on April 30, after a solution was worked out that no truck from either country would cross the border, and goods would be unloaded at the no mans land. If a truck does not enter another country, there is no question of quarantine for the drivers and helpers.
"However, local people demand that as long as the lockdown is in place, trucks should not enter even the no man''s land. They are afraid that resumption of trade might spread the infection," an official of the land port said.
Only 15 trucks from the Indian side could unload goods at the no man''s land from April 30 to May 1, and the trade came to a halt on May 2, they said.
"The customs department has sent a report to the Centre. Till now there is no information of any proposed meeting with the local administration and the villagers. Efforts are on to sit for talks with the state administration and locals to chalk out an amicable solution," the official said.
Local people have put up road blockades on Sunday and Monday on a road linking to the Petrapole border demanding immediate suspension of export activities.
The blockade was withdrawn after police assured the protesters that the matter would be taken up with the administration.
Around 2,100 trucks are stranded in and around Petrapole border with essential and non-essentials cargo for Bangladesh. Most of these trucks are ferrying consignments of onions as it is in huge demand in Bangladesh during the period of Ramadan.
The local panchayat run by the Trinamool Congress is of opinion that Benapole, the corresponding place in Bangladesh, has been seriously affected by Covid-19 and export activities could lead to spread of the contagion to this side of the border.
"Anyone could be a carrier. How do you know who is COVID positive or not? It is better that trade remain suspended till this pandemic is over," a local TMC leader said.
Petrapole is about 80 kilometres from Kolkata. On a normal day, 500-550 trucks cross the border there from India and about 100-150 come from Bangladesh.