New Delhi’s endeavor to implement new motor vehicles rules across India has caught trucks from Bhutan in trouble in Assam.
Trucks from Bhutan carry boulders and stone chips to Bangladesh and pass through Assam and Meghalaya.
Suddenly, the truck drivers from Bhutan are being forced to pay hefty fines in Assam.
The new traffic law was implemented on September 23 in Assam.
Exporters from Bhutan said nearly four-dozen trucks were seized since September 24 on charges of “overloading” in Lower Assam’s Bongaigaon district.
The truck drivers and the boulder exporters of Bhutan were caught totally by surprise.
Neither the Assam government nor the Ministry of External Affairs informed Bhutan about the new traffic rules.
A section of exporters from Bhutan felt that the spirit of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) is defeated with the actions of the Assam transport officials.
As per SAFTA, two member countries are eligible for free transit through a third country without any hindrance.
The SAFTA applies to the eight SAARC countries.
So far, taking advantage of the provisions of SAFTA, the Bhutanese exporters have been transporting stone chips and other materials to Bangladesh without any hindrance.
The exporters expressed surprise because SAFTA rules prohibit the transit country from stopping consignments from an exporting country (Bhutan) to an importing country (Bangladesh).
Trucks from Gelephu in Bhutan carry stone chips to Bangladesh via Dalu (West Garo hills in Meghalaya). The goods and documents are sealed before the trucks enter Assam.
And as per SAFTA rules, the containers are to be opened at the destination (Bangladesh) after covering a distance of 321 km through Assam and Meghalaya.
But transport officials of Assam have also started intercepting the Bhutanese trucks, the exporters said.
Senior officials of the Bhutanese Consulate in Guwahati reportedly took up the matter with the senior officials of Assam government.