India, B’desh to launch border haats to boost local economy

Anand Sharma to open Kalaichar haat tomorrow

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday said opening up haats (rural bazaar) at the border of India and Bangladesh will help the local people from both the countries.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma will on Saturday jointly inaugurate a border haat at Kalaichar, West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya with his Bangladesh counterpart Muhammad Faruk Khan.

“It is estimated that bilateral trade worth $20 million will take place annually from the border haats once they are opened,” the Commerce Ministry said.

Chief Minister of Meghalaya Dr Mukul Sangma will also be present on the occasion.

The haats aimed at promoting the well being of the people dwelling in remote areas across the borders of India and Bangladesh by establishing traditional system of marketing of local produce.

“The opening of border haats will make the border villages on both sides more prosperous through improved market accessibility for their locally produced goods,” it said.

The commodities traded shall be locally produced vegetables, food items, fruits, spices, minor local forest produce like bamboo, bamboo grass, cottage items like lungi, plough, axe, spade, chisel and locally produced garments.

“The list of items allowed for trade in designated border haats may be expanded/ modified by mutual consent,” it said.

The Kalaichar-Baliamari border haat management committee, meanwhile, has entrusted both the state police and the BSF to provide security in the area during the haat days.

The decision was taken during the second joint meeting of the committee held at Kalaichar on the border of West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya recently.

The meeting, chaired by Sanjay Goyal, the deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills, and attended by his counterpart in Kurigram district of Bangladesh, Md Habibur Rehman, among others, decided that a police official not below the rank of sub-inspector would be posted along with the BSF on haat days for maintenance of law and order on both sides of the border. Bangladesh will also make similar arrangements.

In addition to the haats, both the countries are working on several projects to improve trade infrastructure and connectivity. Border Management Department of Ministry of Home Affairs in India is developing 7 Integrated Check Posts on the border – Petrapole, Agartala, Dawki, Hili, Chandrabangha, Sutarkhandi and Kawarpuchiah.

India is also developing infrastructure at 8 Land Custom Stations (LCSs) along the border at a cost of Rs 108.19 crores, it said, adding that the total projected cost of all the ICPs and Land Custom Stations being developed is USD 125 million.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is scheduled to visit the neighbouring country in September. (Agencies)

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