Agartala, Nov 4: A border ‘haat’ (market) along the India-Bangladesh border in Tripura is expected to start within three months. It will boost local trade and contact between the people of the two countries, a Tripura minister said Monday.
“In presence of officials of India and Bangladesh, works have officially begun Sunday afternoon to create basic infrastructure at the ‘haat’ site at Krishnanagar (India)-Madhupur (Bangladesh) bordering villages,” Tripura’s Industry and Commerce Minister Jitendra Chowdhury told IANS.
India’s Krishnanagar village, 150 km south of Agartala, is located opposite to southeastern Bangladesh’s Khagrachari district.
Chowdhury said : “To build necessary infrastructure, including market shed, medical and security booths, fencing of the border ‘haat’ areas, Rs. 2.38 crore would be spent. Union commerce ministry would give a large part of the amount.”
According to the minister, Tripura industrial development corporation would set up the infrastructure.
Thousands of cheerful people of Krishnanagar (in India) and Madhupur (in Bangladesh) bordering villages were present when district officials of southern Tripura and Bangladesh’s Feni district held a meeting at the Krishnanagar panchayat office.
The minister said that the two countries had already decided to set up four border ‘haats’ in Tripura. These would likely to be operational within a year at Kasba in western Tripura and Sabroom in southern Tripura, Dharmanagar and Kamalpur in northern Tripura.
Two border haats were set up along the Meghalaya border in 2011 on a pilot basis and these are now operational.
The northeastern state of Tripura shares an 856-km-long international border with Bangladesh, which shares a 4,096-km border with India’s five states – West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram besides Tripura.
“Dhaka and New Delhi are keen to set up eight more markets along the India-Bangladesh border in the northeastern states,” Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes had said here recently.
The haats are to be set up within five km on either side of the international border.
“The Tripura government had earlier demanded seven border haats along the Tripura border. In the first phase, four such markets were agreed upon by the two countries,” said Chowdhury.
“If the existing border infrastructure is upgraded, the volume of trade and business between Bangladesh and the northeastern states of India would increase by five to six times of the current level,” the minister said.
“The border haats would be allowed to sell local agricultural and horticultural products, spices, minor forest products (excluding timber), fresh and dry fish, dairy and poultry products, cottage industry items, wooden furniture, handloom and handicraft items,” said Chaudhury.
An official of the state industry and commerce department said no local tax would be imposed on the trading and both Indian as well as Bangladeshi currencies will be accepted.