SHILLONG, Feb 6 � Two of the traditional border haats (markets) are expected to be opened in March as part of pilot projects to revive the historic trade ties between Meghalaya and Bangladesh, reports PTI.
Bangladesh Commerce Minister Muhammad Faruk Khan said here last night that both the countries hoped to open up at least ten more such haats in the next six-eight months.
These haats would benefit both the countries, especially the people living along the border areas, Khan, leading a high-powered delegation from Bangladesh, said after a meeting with Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and other state officials.
Meanwhile, Meghalaya Governor R S Mooshahary has approved the setting up of a Haat Management Committee (HMC) which has been prepared by the department of Commerce and Industries to look into the nitty gritty of opening up the first Indo-Bangla border haat at Balat.
The approved HMC has an additional district magistrate as the chairman and includes officials from BSF, Police, Customs and traditional heads. The construction works for the stalls are on, officials said.
Till 1971, border residents from then East Pakistan used to cross over to the Indian side for exchange of goods. But after the creation of Bangladesh, the 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 ties were snapped when the borders were arbitrarily re-drawn, leaving the communities bereft of the traditional means of livelihood through local trade.
�So far, 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),� Karim said.
He said the haats would permit the local people 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 would be allowed to sell their products in the haats and the number of sellers would be initially be limited to 25 only.