Biratnagar, September 22:

With the resumption of traffic on the East-West Highway looking distant, businessmen in the eastern region have demanded that Bathnah-Bhimnagar route via India be operationalised to ferry goods to western Nepal.

Industries based in Sunsari-Morang corridor have been using long Indian road to supply goods to the western parts after the Saptakoshi river damaged the highway. Businessmen said the Jogbani-Raxaul (500 km) route was long and risky. The supply cost doubles while transporting goods through the route, they said.

It is learnt that the supply cost could be lessened by Rs 5,000 for each metric tonne of goods if Bathnah-Bhimnagar route, which is just 450 km in length, could be used.

Bijay Kumar Singh, chief at Jogbani customs in India and Mahesh Jaju, chairman of Morang Trade Association, held discussion in this regard yesterday.

“The businessmen in east will feel a sense of relief once the Bathnah-Bhimnagar route becomes operational,” Singh said. “Nepal should take initiative in the regard.”

Businessmen said flood has caused minor damages to the Bathnah-Bhimnagar road, which could be easily maintained.

Meanwhile, transport entrepreneurs are forced to supply goods to parts east of the Saptakoshi river by using boats at Chatara, as the Indian government has not given permission to supply goods through the Indian route.

“It costs Rs 30,000 to transport a truck of goods on boats and at least six boats are needed to ferry a truckload of goods,” Sushil Joshi, chairman of Transport Entrepreneurs’ Association said.

According to the current arrangement, goods supplied from different places arrive in Kanchanpur and Phattepur in Saptari and are supplied to Bhagalpur in Udaypur on tractors.