Mughal-era `haats` on Indo-Bangla border to reopen

Forty years after border trade between West Bengal and East Pakistan stopped, two of the historic border markets are set to reopen soon.

Shillong: Forty years after border trade
between West Bengal and East Pakistan stopped in the event of
the birth of Bangladesh, two of the historic border markets
are set to reopen soon.

Situated on the India-Bangladesh border, the once-thriving
markets, known in local parlance as `haats`, at Balat and
Kalaichar in Meghalaya are abuzz with pre-revival activity.

The reopening of the border haats at Balat in East Khasi
Hills district and Kalaichar in West Garo Hills district would
be taken up as pilot projects, West Garo Hils deputy
commissioner Sanjay Goyal said.

Goyal is overseeing the arrangement of revival of the
Kalaichar haat which, he said, would restore trade links
between the isolated communities along the international

Officials say till 1971, border residents from then East
Pakistan used to cross over to the Indian side for exchange of

But after the creation of Bangladesh, the border haats
were closed. History has it that the haats in Meghalaya were
functional even during the Mughal period.

The Meghalaya state government is constructing a series of
stalls for the vendors and issues relating to security and
other business aspects are being discussed with officials from

Notifications have been issued to the villages falling
within a five-km radius from the location of the border haat,
inviting applications from prospective vendors in which the
criteria for selection as well as commodities that could
be traded in the haat have also been included.

The selected vendors about 50 in each haat - would be
issued special identity cards by the district administration.

Locally available commodities like vegetables, fruits,
spices, food items, forest produce like bamboo, bamboo grass,
broomsticks, and products of local cottage industries would be
traded in these markets.

The BSF has requested for setting up of two outpost towers
outside the market fencing to maintain vigil on the markets`

The DC said till the posts were sanctioned by the Centre,
patrolling parties, including men from the BSF, would be
provided on the two days when the markets would be open.

While a portion of the trade is expected to take place
through the barter system, the government is working out with
the SBI for operating a foreign exchange counter in the haats,
Goyal said.

The Meghalaya government has proposed the inauguration
of the markets next month, but a final decision would be taken
by the Centre.

Informal trade between India and Bangladesh is two
and half times more than the formal trade. The border haats,
once opened, will help reduce the informal trade, officials


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