Srinagar (Tripura), Jan 13 (IANS) Tripura’s first “border haat” – the third such market along India’s frontier with Bangladesh – was inaugurated here Tuesday to boost trade of local produce of both the nations.
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Bangladeshi counterpart Tofail Ahmed jointly inaugurated the “border haat” here, about 140 km south of Tripura capital Agartala.
Two “border haat” were set up in 2012 on Meghalaya-Bangladesh border – Kalaichar (India)-Baliamari (Bangladesh) and Dalora (Bangladesh)-Balat (India).
The “border haat” are allowed to sell local agricultural and horticultural products, spices, minor forest produce (excluding timber), fresh and dry fish, dairy and poultry products, cottage industry items, wooden furniture, handloom and handicraft items.
“The trading in the ‘border haat’ initially would be done once a week and is likely to be twice in a week in future depending on the demands of the local traders and buyers,” Pravin L. Agrawal, Tripura’s industry and commerce department director and special secretary, told IANS.
Twenty-five local traders-producers each from India and Bangladesh would be allowed to sell their wares and products in the “border haat”.
Agrawal said during the visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi Jan 10-13, 2010, India and Bangladesh decided to set up these “border haat” to boost local trade and people-to-people contact.
“Joint secretaries of India and Bangladesh’s commerce ministries signed a memorandum of understanding Oct 23, 2010, and finalised the modalities to set up the ‘border haat’,” he added.
Agrawal said trading in these markets would be held once or twice a week, and in June 2012 in a revised agreement per day per head spending cap of $50 was increased to $100.
The official said the work on another “border haat” at Kamalasagar in western Tripura is on and this would be ready within a month.
According to a union home ministry report, India is keen to set up 70 border markets along its border with Bangladesh.
“India, in consultation with the Bangladesh government and respective state governments, has identified 70 locations in five border states to set up ‘border haat’ in a phased manner,” said the report made available to IANS.
Four northeastern states which share the border with Myanmar also have proposed 15 “border haat” along the India-Myanmar border to develop trans-border trade and business.
The report said: “Of the 70 ‘border haat’, 35 have been proposed along the border with West Bengal, followed by 22 along Meghalaya border, five in Tripura and four in Assam.”
Four locations to set up such markets along the Mizoram border with Bangladesh have also been identified.
“BSF (Border Security Force) authorities have been involved in identifying the locations for the ‘border haat’ along the Bangladesh border,” it said.
A senior official of the Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER) Ministry said the governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram – which share 1,643-km-long border with Myanmar – have suggested setting up 15 such “haat” along the border with Myanmar.
“The Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh governments have suggested four ‘border haat’ each along the international border with Myanmar while the Manipur government wanted four such markets,” the official told IANS.
The authorities need Rs.2.20 crore to Rs.2.45 crore each to set up a “border haat”. The entire expenditure will be borne by the union commerce and industry ministry.
India and Bangladesh share 4,096-km border along West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Assam (263 km), Meghalaya (443 km) and Mizoram (318 km). The two neighbours have 2,979 km of land border and 1,116 km of riverine boundaries.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at email@example.com)