Closure of haat creates hardship for border residents

SHILLONG: The Sirdar of Umniuhtmar Elaka, Premier Sing Khongbeh said the Border Haat (border market) at Umniuhtmar village known as Haat Dearbali should be re-opened to ensure the border residents reap benefits from the haat.
Speaking to reporters, Khongbeh said that residents along the Indo-Bangladesh border of Umniuhtmar (East Khasi Hills) sustained their livelihood from the border haat by selling various agricultural products to the Bangladeshi neighbours.
However, he expressed concern that the economic benefit has gone down following challenges faced in recent years for re-opening the border haat.
He said, “The Border Haat at Umniuhtmar has been in existence since the time of East Pakistan. We also got the authorized route from the Central Board of Revenue in the year 1962.”
Post the closure of the border haat, he said there were efforts to re-open the market but it did not materialize since the state government did not take the matter seriously.
“Now that the Indian government has started the fencing work, we have written to the Deputy Commissioner, Chief Secretary and BSF to re-open the Haat,” Khongbeh said.
“We, living in the rural areas, face many difficulties without the higher authorities taking the matter seriously,” he said.
He informed that there is only one Border Haat in Umniuhtmar which is located at pilar number 29.
Asked on fencing carried out the Indian government, Khongbeh said, “We look forward to the fencing as there were times that the agricultural products were stolen by Bangladeshi.”
He said some of the products which the Bangladeshis allegedly steal are betel-nut, bay leaf (by cutting the young bay leaf trees) and felling huge trees.
Stating that the VDPs and BSF are making efforts to prevent thefts along the border, Khongbeh said, “There were discussions in the recent years to urge the state government to deploy Home Guard wing.”
However, he reiterated that despite the fencing of the Indo-Bangladesh border, the border haat at Umniuhtmar should re-open.

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