The nine-member team of Motherhood, an NGO from Holland, are putting up at the international border braving the inclement weather while residing in their 10 trucks since Friday noon.
They had brought 10 large trucks stuffed with humanitarian aid but could not proceed to Tamil Nadu as the Customs Department had not exempted duty.
However, after reading the news item in these columns published on February 5, numerous NGOs had come forward to help the Dutch NGO in its task. The United Sikhs and Earth Care Institute and Chandigarh-based Dr Amrik Singh Cheema Foundation Trust had rung senior custom officials. Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Asian Director of the institute and former secretary SGPC, and Mr Jagdeep Singh Cheema said they were trying to get the material aid clear.
They said though the Central Government had already announced not to take any aid from outside, the fact should not be forgotten that the Dutch NGO had brought these trucks after travelling 10,000 km. They said it would not be in good taste to return them.
Ms Nicolien De Kroon, Director of the NGO, today wrote a letter to the Customs Department in New Delhi demanding that if not exempted the duty must be charged in Chennai. She said some NGOs based in South India had urged her to bring the material aid. These NGOs are St. Karunalaya, Thomas Hospital, both based in Chennai, and the BGM Social Service Centre in Kerala.
Ms Kroon said that she had not yet received any information from their five other members who had gone to Islamabad for arranging travel documents to enter India.
Mr Willem Van Der Zwaag (66), the oldest member of the group, said that they slept in the trucks for two nights and faced no problem as they carried the required material with them. He said they had adequate experience of such situation. Mr Jarno Kooiker (20), the youngest member of the team, said that they were desperately waiting for the clearance.
The other members of the group are Mr Henk Zieleman, Mr Kokko Belga, Mr Jan Hoving, Mr Feike Sybrandi, Mr Jaap Vinke and Mr Jan Posseth.
Mr P.S. Bisht, Assistant Commissioner, Customs, said the department had forwarded the request letter of Ms Kroon to the Delhi office and it was upto them to decide.