Trade begins at fourth ‘haat’ on Indo-Bangladesh border

Kamalasagar (Tripura), June 11 (IANS) Braving heavy rain, thousands of people – including women and children – on Thursday gathered on both sides of the India-Bangladesh border to witness the inauguration of the fourth border ‘haat’ (market) in Kamalasagar-Tarapur area on Thursday.

Indian and Bangladeshi singers were in attendance to regale the public with patriotic and popular songs from both the countries.

While Kamalasagar is situated 30 km south-west of Agartala in Sipahijala district of western Tripura, Tarapur is in Brahmanbaria district of eastern Bangladesh.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina had inaugurated the Kamalasagar-Tarapur border ‘haat’ – the second in Tripura – along with six other projects in Dhaka on June 6.

“Twenty five traders from each side, living within a five-km radius of the border, have been allowed to sell locally produced goods and crops at the ‘haat’. Buyers have to get permits from the border haat management authority to make purchases,” Sipahijala district magistrate Pradip Chakraborty told IANS.

Bangladeshi officials were also pleased over the opening of the new border market that would benefit Kamalasagar-Tarapur border villages.

“Not only growers and local traders on both sides will benefit, but also relations between people of both India and Bangladesh will become more cordial,” said Brahmanbaria district deputy commissioner Mohammad Musharaf Hussain, in the presence of senior officials and elected representatives of both sides.

Kamalasagar is also a famous tourist spot with a century-old Kali temple. Tarapur village under Kasba upa-zilla is connected by the Bangladeshi rail network.

Set up by India’s commerce ministry at a cost of Rs.2.48 crore to boost trade in local produce on both sides of the international border, the market will function for six hours from 9.30 a.m. (Indian time) onwards every Thursday.

As per the agreement, 15 to 16 local agricultural and horticultural products, spices, minor forest produce (excluding timber), fresh and dry fish, dairy and poultry products, cottage industry items, wooden furniture, handloom and handicraft items would be sold at the ‘haat’.

The border haat management committee (BHMC) comprising officials of Tripura’s Sipahijala district and Bangladesh’s Brahmanbaria district will periodically review its functioning and take corrective steps.

India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, her Bangladeshi counterpart Tofail Ahmed and Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar jointly inaugurated Tripura’s first border ‘haat’ in Srinagar (southern Tripura), about 140 km south of state capital Agartala on January 13.

Two border ‘haats’ were set up in 2012 on the Meghalaya-Bangladesh border – at Kalaichar (India)-Baliamari (Bangladesh) and Dalora (Bangladesh)-Balat (India).

“At the Srinagar market, commodities worth Rs.6.50 lakh are sold on an average every Tuesday,” Tripura Industries and Commerce minister Tapan Chakraborty told IANS.

Tripura had proposed to set up eight border ‘haats’ along the state’s borders with Bangladesh, but the governments of the two countries have so far agreed to set up only four.

As per the memorandum of understanding on the border markets, purchases per person have since been doubled to 100 dollars and trading carried out in Indian and Bangladeshi currencies.

According to a union home ministry report, India is keen to set up 70 markets along its 4,096-km border with Bangladesh, including a 1,116 km riverine boundary.

The governments of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram too have proposed the setting up of 15 such ‘haats’ along the India-Myanmar border for trans-border trade and business.

An official of Mizoram’s commerce and industry department in Aizawl said that Land Customs Stations at Zokhawthar in Champhai district of Mizoram were ready for formal inauguration to facilitiate cross-border trade.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, recently visited the proposed India-Bangladesh border trade centre at Kawrpuichhuah in Lunglei district of Mizoram and discussed with officials the cross-border trade through it.

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