Entrepreneurs ask for security

Kathmandu, June 6:

Industrialists and traders from Birgunj and Bara area have asked the government for a special package to ensure security for running industry and doing businesses in the Bara-Parsa corridor, Nepal’s industrial and economic hub.

Extortion, abduction and murders have become a daily routine along the Bara-Parsa corridor, where the country’s majority of industrial and trading activities take place, said Ganesh Prasad Lath, the newly-elected president of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

Talking to media persons today at the capital, Lath said that the business community have become the prime target for extortion, threat and abduction in recent times. “There is not a single day when small retailers to big entrepreneurs do not receive threatening calls,

demanding ransoms,” he said.

According to him, dacoits and criminal groups from across the Indian border are active in terrorising businessmen, industrialists and traders in Birgunj, Kalaiya and periphery. “If we fail or disagree to fulfil their demands, it is understood that either abduction or physical attack is going to take place anytime,” Lath said.

About a half dozen entrepreneurs were murdered by criminal gangs and dacoits over the last one year, whereas incidents of abduction, extortion and call threats are countless, he said. “It is completely ironical that the security presence is almost negligible, even though the Bara-Parsa corridor alone provides 40 per cent of total revenues,” Lath complained.

Besides a significant revenue contribution to the national coffer, the Bara-Parsa ccorridoris considered as Nepal’s main industrial and trading hub, where 60 per cent of total industrial manufacturing activities take place. Over 40 per cent of the total foreign trade takes place

via Birgunj customs.

Lath also complained that the government’s apathy towards providing proper security to the industry and business activities in the region could cost the country a lot in terms of capital flight and closure of industries.

“Over a dozen industrialists and traders have already left Birgunj and Kalaiya area seeking security elsewhere. The number of closures of factories is two-three times higher than this,” he said.

Lath also informed that a delegation comprising of businessmen from the region met with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Rajendra Mahato, industry and commerce minister in the last three days and apprised them about the current situation.

“We have clearly told them that either improve the security situation or let all industries and trading activities in the region close down,” he said, adding that the demands include 10 extra mobile vans, 15 motorcycles, communication sets and 50 additional special security personnel.

“We are ready to provide financial support, if the government cannot afford these simple demands. But the bottom line is that security must be ensured,” Lath said. “Earlier, we have been given bundles of assurance. We now look forward to transforming them into actions.”

Besides the security problem, Ashok Temani, vice-president BCCI, said that most industries are running 40 per cent below their capacity and poor power supply is the major bottleneck. Frequent power cut offs and low voltage supply have eroded competitiveness of industrial production, he said.