Historic border haats to be opened in March

Shillong, Feb 6 (PTI) Two of the traditional borderhaats (markets) are expected to be opened in March as part ofpilot projects to revive the historic trade ties betweenMeghalaya and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Muhammad Faruk Khan saidhere last night that both the countries hoped to open up atleast ten more such haats in the next six-eight months.

These haats would benefit both the countries, especiallythe people living along the border areas, Khan, leading ahigh-powered delegation from Bangladesh, said after a meetingwith Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and other stateofficials.

Meanwhile, Meghalaya Governor R S Mooshahary has approvedthe setting up of a Haat Management Committee (HMC) which hasbeen prepared by the department of Commerce and Industries tolook into the nitty gritty of opening up the first Indo-Banglaborder haat at Balat.

The approved HMC has an additional district magistrate asthe chairman and includes officials from BSF, Police, Customsand traditional heads. The construction works for the stallsare on, officials said.

Till 1971, border residents from then East Pakistan usedto cross over to the Indian side for exchange of goods. Butafter the creation of Bangladesh, the border haats wereclosed.

History has it that border haats in Meghalaya werefunctional even during the Mughal period.

According to Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq AKarim, the traditional ties were snapped when the borders werearbitrarily re-drawn, leaving the communities bereft of thetraditional means of livelihood through local trade.

�So far, three locations have been identified forestablishing the border-haats in Sonarhat-Lyngkhat(Sylhet-East Khasi Hills border), Baliamari-Kalaichar(Kurigram-West Garo Hills border) and Narayantala-Balat(Sunamganj-East Khasi Hills border),� Karim said.

He said the haats would permit the local people tosell locally produced vegetables, fruits, spices, fish,poultry, minor forest produces, produce of local cottageindustry, small agricultural household implements, second handgarments, melamine products and processed food items.

People living within 10 kms of the border would beallowed to sell their products in the haats and the number ofsellers would be initially be limited to 25 only.

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