Agartala: Four more “Border Haats” (markets) would be set up in Tripura by the Indian and Bangladeshi governments to promote the local business and livelihood of the people living alongside the frontiers while four “Border Haats” were set up along borders of the two countries — with Meghalaya and Tripura between 2011 and 2015, a Tripura minister said Thursday.
Tripura Industries and Commerce Department Minister Manoj Kanti Deb said that Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi laid the foundation stone for Kamalpur (India) – Kurmaghat (in Moulvibazar district of Bangladesh) “Border Haat” in eastern Tripura in February while the foundation stone for the Raghna (India)-Batuli (Bangladesh) along northern Tripura “Border Haat” would be laid soon.
The Minister while replying to the questions of CPI-M MLA Nirmal Biswas said that efforts were on and the officials of the two countries held meetings to set up two more “Border Haat” in Belchara (India)-Nalua Tea Estate (Habiganj district in Bangladesh) and Kathalia (India) – Rampur (Comilla district of Bangladesh) in western Tripura.
A Senior official of Tripura’s Industries and Commerce Department said that the state government has proposed to the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industries to sanction eight more “Border Haats” along the state’s border with Bangladesh to promote the trades of local and selected commodities and increase the livelihood of the people living alongside the frontiers of India and Bangladesh.
The official said that the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industries on an average sanctioned Rs 2.50 crore against the project cost of around Rs 5.30 crore for each of the ‘Border Haat’.
“To facilitate the movement of people and functioning of the ‘Border Haat’, the state government has to build up the necessary infrastructure including roads leading to the site of the ‘Border Haat’,” the official told IANS.
The first “Border Haat” started functioning on July 23, 2011 at Kalaichar (India)-Kurigram (Bangladesh) in the West Garo Hills of Meghalaya. Three other such border markets followed at Balat (Meghalaya, India)-Dolora (Bangladesh) in 2012, Srinagar (Tripura, India)-Chhagalnaiya (Bangladesh) and Kamalasagar (Tripura, India )-Kasba (Bangladesh) in 2015.
These “Border Haat” in around 5,625 sq. metre areas of two countries’ territories or ‘no-man’s land’ operate once in a week on a fixed day. In the weekly market day, on an average, at least 25 vendors including women from both sides of the borders from the two countries participate at “Border Haat” and sell their various products comprising agricultural, cottage and small enterprises and domestic products.
These four “Border Haats”, however, have remained closed since March 2020 as precautionary measures against the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown, causing immense loss to the people living bordering villages.
The Tripura and Meghalaya governments on a number of occasions have urged the Central government to take up the matter with the Bangladesh government to reopen the “Border Haats” maintaining the Covid protocols as the pandemic situation has been declining.
According to government records, before the Covid-triggered lockdown period, on an average, each “Border Haat” registered an annual business of Rs 3 crore.
The four northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam share a 1,880-km long border with Bangladesh.