India allows Nepali cargo trucks to proceedChristian Fernsby ▼ | June 24, 2020
India on Monday allowed Nepali cargo trucks to proceed to the Panitanki border point in West Bengal after being stranded on the bridge over the Mechi River for six days.
India Panitanki border
Topics: India Nepal
On Monday evening, six trucks laden with tea and five trucks laden with large cardamom rolled across the border. Nine trucks carrying broom grass bound for Hariyana, India also crossed the border.
From April 8 to May 8, the West Bengal government had imposed a complete lockdown at the border, prohibiting shipments to and from Nepal to prevent the spread of the virus.
A month later, West Bengal verbally informed Nepali authorities that movement across the border would be permitted, but it only allowed one-way traffic into Nepal.
Trucks transporting cargo to Nepal were forbidden from returning to India after making their deliveries.
According to traders, the export restrictions were placed because West Bengal plans to ban Nepali tea in India. Tea associations in Darjeeling have been urging their government to ban Nepali tea for a long time. They have been accusing traders of exporting Nepali orthodox tea by branding it with the logo of Darjeeling, India.
Suresh Mittal, president of the Nepal Tea Producers Association, Jhapa, said that Indian tea traders have been alleging that the identity of Darjeeling tea was at stake because Nepal's orthodox tea was being exported with the logo of Darjeeling.
Orthodox tea from Ilam in Nepal tastes better than Darjeeling tea, Nepali traders claim. The terrain and weather conditions of Darjeeling and Ilam are nearly identical. That is why Ilam tea is better than the Darjeeling product, traders said.
The taste of tea produced in the upper parts of the country, including Ilam, is different from that of Darjeeling, they said.
Tea is also one of the key exportable Nepali products. According to the Mechi Customs Office, Rs4 billion worth of the product is shipped to India annually. Demand for CTC tea produced in the Tarai is high in India. ■