Shillong: After nearly four decades, the Indo-Bangla border will bustle with trade activities once again when the Mughal-era `haats` (markets) are revived later
this month in Meghalaya.
Bangladesh Commerce Minister M Faruk Khan and Meghalaya Chief Minister DD Lapang are scheduled to jointly inaugurate Sonarhat-Lyngkhat border haat (market) along the international border later this month, reviving the historic trade link.
Officials say till 1971, border residents from the then East Pakistan used to cross over to the Indian side to exchange goods. But after creation of Bangladesh, these border
haats were closed.
History has it that border haats in Meghalaya were functional even during the Mughal period.
According to Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq A Karim, the traditional trade ties were snapped when the borders were redrawn, leaving the communities bereft of their
means of livelihood.
Three locations have been identified for establishing
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).
The officials of both the countries will be meeting
soon to finalise the modalities for functioning of these
border haats, Karim said.
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.
"People living within 10 kms of the border will be
allowed to sell their products in the haats and the number of
sellers would initially be limited to 25 only," the Bangladesh
envoy, who was here on a three-day visit since Thursday, said,
adding that the haats would directly benefit locals on both
sides of the border.
Meghalaya Chief Minister D D Lapang had earlier said
the border haats symbolise the lifestyle of the people and
will help strengthen ties between the sides.
"It is not only to exchange merchandise but also to
exchange ideas and share their problems with each other, which
is a healthy way of promoting human relations," he said.
Officials estimate that informal trade between India
and Bangladesh is two and half times more than the formal
trade such haats will check illegal trade. Last year, the
amount of formal trade between the two countries was three