During the 2019-20 financial year, some 12.54 lakh people travelled to India through Benapole land port. And the government earned Tk67.47 crore as revenue from travel tax provided by these travellers.
Sources said that because of the coronavirus outbreak, the number of travellers has dropped this time compared to that in the last financial year. Last year, about 15 lakh people travelled to India.
The Sonali Bank branch at Benapole has collected Tk47.46 crore travel tax out of the total collected amount. And the rest of the money has been collected at other branches of Sonali Bank across the country.
About the travellers, 90 percent were Bangladeshis while 10 percent were Indians and from other countries.
Sonali Bank collects tax from passengers. They charge Tk500 per person as travel tax, and Tk42.85 as port tax.
Aminul Haque, vice-president of the Benapole Importers and Exporters Association, said the quality of passenger service has not improved despite the huge revenue generated every year from this land port.
"Various promises of infrastructure development are yet to be implemented. Moreover, tax is collected for providing service, but there are no notable services available at the port," he said.
Aminul added that, "The immigration counter has no passenger canopy. So, the passengers have to spend a long time in the sun, and they also get wet in the rain. Fraudsters and muggers also hang around in the immigration and passenger terminal."
Immigration department sources said that travelling legally to India through Benapole port began in 1972. Kolkata city is only 84 kilometers away from Benapole.
It takes only two and a half hours to reach Kolkata by train or bus after departing from Benapole.
Because of the smooth communication system, travelers and traders use Benapole land port to reach India by road and railway.
The Indian government has imposed a ban on the travel of Bangladeshis through this land port since March 13 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. However, immigration sources said that travel by VIPs is still going on with special permission from the Indian high commission.
Rokibul Islam, manager of Sonali Bank in Benapole, has confirmed the passenger statistics and information on revenue collection.
Abdul Jalil, Benapole port officer said that further development projects will be undertaken at the land port.