India, B’desh to set up 6 more border haats

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Agartala, July 23 (IANS) To improve the livelihood of people on the border, India and Bangladesh will set up six more “border haats” (markets) in addition to the existing four, a top official said here on Monday after a series of official-level meetings.

A 13-member Indian delegation led by Commerce Ministry’s Joint Secretary Bhupinder Singh Bhalla and an eight-member team of Bangladesh headed by Commerce Ministry’s Additional secretary Shafiqul Islam held a series of meetings here on Sunday and Monday.

The India-Bangladesh Joint Committee on ‘Border Haat’ would finalise the places and related issues for six more such haats by March next year, Shafiqul Islam told the media after the joint meeting.

Two border haats each in Tripura and Meghalaya are functional.

“The officials of both India and Bangladesh on Sunday visited the Kamalasagar border haats in western Tripura and talked with all stakeholders. The joint committee identified some issues including construction of sheds for the buyer to be implemented,” the Bangladeshi official said.

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“We want hassle-free movement of buyers and sellers within ‘border Haats’. Guidelines on such haats are to be circulated among all stakeholders including border guarding forces for smooth operations of these markets,” Shafiqul Islam said.

To a question, he said that famous “Jamdani saree” and delicious hilsa fish cannot be sold in the haats as the two countries are yet to decide on the issue.

The “Border Haat” can be operated twice a week instead of the existing once a week. From now onwards transaction data would be maintained by the two sides, an official said.

The official said the Border Haat Management Committee headed by additional District Magistrate and Deputy Commissioner of the two countries would now meet regularly to sort out issues of these markets.

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India and Bangladesh opened their first border haat at Kalaichar on the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills district on July 23, 2011 reviving the traditional border trade after nearly 40 years.

After that, three more haats have been set up in Balat along Meghalaya-Bangladesh border and Kamlasagar and Srinagar along Tripura-Bangladesh border.

Four Indian northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam share the 1,880-km border with Bangladesh.

–IANS

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