SHILLONG, July 4 � India and Bangladesh have approved setting up of four more border haats along the Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya with an aim to increase bilateral trade and improve living conditions of border residents.
�The Government of India and Government of Bangladesh have approved setting up of four more haats along the border, apart from the two which have been in operation for the past three years,� Meghalaya Chief Secretary P Barkos Oflyn Warjri said.
He said the approval was granted at Dhaka during the last meeting of the top officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of External Affairs of both the countries.
Of the approved haats, two will be in East Khasi Hills (Bholaganj and Ryngku) and one each in South West Khasi Hills (Nolikata near Ranikor) and South Garo Hills (Sibari), Warjri said.
According to the official, the department is in the process of constructing four haats approved by both countries and is now awaiting funds from the Centre for execution of works at the ground level.
The haats were traditional centres of trade and commerce along the border which were shut down after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. It is estimated that bilateral trade worth $20 million would take place annually from the border haats.
Local forest produce, cottage industry items, small agriculture equipments like plough, axe, spade, chisel, processed food items, fruit juice and melamine products, among others, have been exempted from Value Added Tax and Customs duties and are listed for trade at these haats, he said.
Two haats are in operation in Kalaichar and Balat in Meghalaya�s South West Garo Hills and East Khasi Hills district respectively since July 2011.
Both the haats in Meghalaya have fifty stalls within an enclosed and fenced area of about 5,600 sq meters manned on either side by the BSF and the BGB. Twenty five stalls on the Indian side of the border are given to Indian traders while another 25 on the other side were run by the traders from Bangladesh.
Tripura and Mizoram are expected to have two of their haats in operation within this year as infrastructural development is on at present. � PTI