By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: The traditional heads of Ri-War Mihngi areas have appealed to the State Government to take up with the Centre the re-opening of the border haats especially the Sonarhat-Lyngkhat (Sylhet-East Khasi Hills border) for the overall interest of the people residing in the border.
“After the closure of the border haats, the economic activities of the villagers residing along the international border in Ri-Mihngi has drastically gone down,” the traditional heads said while speaking to reporters on Saturday.
According to them, when the trading activities with the Bangladeshi was going on through these border haats, the villagers were doing very well financially.
“But after the Government decided to close down the border haats, the living condition of the people also has gone down,’ the traditional heads said.
Meanwhile, they said, “We would not have any problem if the State Government reduces the financial assistance from the Centre for the sake of opening of the border haats”.
It may be mentioned that as part to revive the historic trade relations between India and Bangladesh, three locations had been identified for establishing the border-haats in Sonarhat-Lyngkhat (Sylhet-East Khasi Hills border), (Kurigram-West Garo Hills border) and Narayantala-Balat (Sunamganj-East Khasi Hills border).
But later both India and Bangladesh government decided to start first with the Narayantala-Balat and Baliamari-Kalaichar as pilot projects.
The Baliamari-Kalaichar was jointly inaugurated by the Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, Anand Sharma and his Bangladesh counterpart Muhammad Faruk Khan, along with Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr. Mukul Sangma in July last.
Meanwhile, the inauguration of the proposed border haat at Lalapani-Dangar, Balat has been fixed somewhere in October.
Till 1971, residents from the border areas of the then East Pakistan used to cross over to the Indian side for exchange of goods. But, after creation of Bangladesh, the border haats were closed. History has it that border haats in Meghalaya were functional even during the Mughal period.
The haats will give the locals a platform to sell locally-produced vegetables, fruits, spices, fish, poultry, minor forest produces, produce of local cottage industry, small agricultural household implements, second hand garments, melamine products and processed food items.