The Railway service covering an Eight-kilometer distance from Bathnaha in North Bihar to Biratnagar in Eastern Nepal came into operation last week.
Around 500 industries of small and large scale are in operation in the Sunsari-Morang industrial corridor in Biratnagar stone’s throw from North Bihar. The railway line was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the official visit of his Nepalese counterpart Pushp Kamal Daha to Delhi last week. Biratnagar situated in the plains is the industrial capital of Nepal
The operation of the railway will significantly reduce the cost of production and lower the end user price for the customers. The cost of transporting goods from Kolkata to Biratnagar in container trucks works out of Rs 3 per kilogram Rakesh Surana President of Chamber of Industries Morang in Biratnagar was quoted by media reports. However, the cost to bring in the same goods from Kolkata by railway would cost Rs 1.95 per kg. This would boost industrial activities in Biratnagar region if the government gives continuity to the railway operations.
Railway operations from Biratnagar to Kolkata will also decrease the cost charged by shipping liner companies. There will be reduced hassles at the Kolkata port as the shipping containers will be available at Biratnagar customs yard for Exports, Nepalese trade believes. Nepal is a landlocked country and depends on Kolkata port for its EXIM trade. Recently the Nepal EXIM trade have started operating from Visakhapatnam port as well
The rail operations would save around Rs 6.048 million, daily, in transportation costs for the industries in Biratnagar according to local chamber of Industries. Nepalese Officials are also hopeful of an uptick in government revenue after the start of the operation of cargo rail
With the operation of the cargo rail, the traders of Biratnagar will no longer have to bring in goods through circuitous route via Birgunj customs to reach Kolkata port. Nepal’s EXIM trade will also have direct access to Visakhapatnam port in south India as well.
Around 4,500 tons of goods in more than 300 container trucks come into Nepal from Kolkata Port and other Indian cities through the Biratnagar customs point on a daily basis. Of the total imports, around 80 percent is from India while the rest is from third countries. With the Rail cargo coming into operation, 60 percent of the imports from India and 100 percent of the goods from the third countries will come via rail, the traders said.
Biratnagar customs yards lack the material holding equipment which might be problematic for loading and unloading the goods transported by rail. The issue needs to be addressed by the Nepalese government on a war footing.