Customs office shut for 12 yrs

GORKHA: The only customs office in the district has remained closed for the past 12 years.

Larke customs office at Sirdibas VDC-1 in the district has not been reinstated even since it was closed in 1997 owing to the Maoist insurgency. Though the government is focusing on maximising revenue generation, it has failed to pay attention to the closed customs office in the district.

Rare medicinal plants like yarsagumba and jatamasi and hides of endangered animals are easily being smuggled into Tibet in the absence of the customs office, according to Birbal Ghale, a local. Before the Larke customs office was shut, two customs units were under operation at Jagat and Chhekampar.

According to District Administration Office, Gorkha, the Finance ministry is responsible for the operation of such offices. "Staffers of the customs offices are changed in every two months. Two staffers of the office were attending the DAO till third week of February. Now, we have lost contact with them," chief district officer Jeevan Prasad Oli said, adding, "I don't know from where are they getting their salary."

Former vice-chairman of District Development Committee, Gorkha, Hari Bahdur Ghale regretted that the government had shown deaf ears to their plea to reinstate the customs office.

However, district in-charge of UCPN-Maoist Krishna Dhital said the party had no plan of reinstating the customs office. "We don't need to reinstate the office, as we are planning to establish a service centre at Sirdibas," he added.