Connectivity Through the Indo-Nepal Border During the Pandemic
By Shailin Nongrang
SAF-India Scholar, UMCDSRC, Kathmandu
Crossing across to India via the Kakarvitta border check post was one of the most exciting experience ever felt while traveling. From Nepal side once I reached the Bhadrapur airport by a domestic flight, taxis are available at the airport itself but it is more convenient if you negotiate beforehand with the agent at an affordable price. The road condition from Bhadrapur airport to the border check post was well made black top with less traffic jam and hassles; crossing over two to three bridges before reaching the check post. For the past three years as a SAF scholar I was privileged to go home every year by flight from Kathmandu via Delhi to Guwahati. My home is in Shillong. But this year due to the pandemic, there are no flights from Kathmandu to any Indian city. Therefore, it was decided that I go via land-route as this would also be a learning experience for me.
At the Nepal check post one has to provide relevant documents such as passport or the citizenship Identity card with the photocopy of such for the registration at the Nepal immigration check post.
The border area is well connected with the bridge of over 400 meters. The bridge was well made and spacious for commuting either by locomotive or by foot to reach the Indian check post at Panitanki, West Bengal, India. From the main town of Bhadrapur to the border it took only half an hour to travel.
Talking about the behavior of the policemen on both side of the border was ok and well behaved and helpful for the people crossing over to India. But one must be mentally prepared before crossing the bridge as no vehicles are allowed during the pandemic. If you have too many luggages you can hire an autorickshaw till half of the bridge with authorization from the Nepal police. Then there are helpers. One can pay them 100 rupees to carry till the Indian check post which is at the side of the border.
Once completed with the health screening and registration at the Indian Check post in Panitanki, the national highway begins. One can hire a taxi from Panitanki to travel either to Bagdogra airport or to other parts of West Bengal and other Indian States.
There is immense trade possibilities but with the closed border during the pandemic there is less trade at the moment through the border. Apparently, before the pandemic there was huge trade of goods and services taking place between Nepal and India especially goods that comes from the North East India. We all hope that this situation does not last long and the air flights open, easy road transportation begins and the open border between Nepal and India continues. Nepal-India relations are unique due to the open border.