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Talks on for reopening India-Bangladesh border markets

Shillong, June 11 (IANS) Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Friday said the opening of border ‘haats’ (markets) between India and Bangladesh is in the advanced stage of approval by both neighbouring countries.

The markets will be set up at the border points between Kaliachar in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills district and Lawar Ghar in Bangladesh’s Sunamganj district and between Balat in West Khasi Hills district and Narayantala in Bangladesh’s Sunamganj district.

‘Though, there are a number of proposals for reviving the border haats (which were closed down after creation of Bangladesh in 1971), the two places have been selected to establish border markets on a pilot basis,’ Sangma told legislators during the question hour in the assembly.

To a query on the criteria for setting up the market, the chief minister said the area should be inaccessible and people residing in the border areas must be inter-dependent with people from across the border to ease economic problems faced by the local populace.

On the regulatory mechanism, Sangma said the government proposed to sell locally-produced agricultural products, fresh and dry fish, poultry, spices, forest products, dairy, and products of local cottage industries including furniture, utensils and iron agricultural equipment.

The weekly markets will be located on the zero line of the international border and it will fenced with barbed wire with entry and exit points on both sides.

Border markets are much-sought among the people on both sides of the border living in remote enclaves and hilly areas as they find it difficult to buy and sell products needed in everyday life.

India had proposed setting up 22 border markets.

What is now the border between the two countries was dotted with markets when India was undivided. Some of them continued to exist until the independence of Bangladesh.

In 2008-09 India imported $277 million worth of products from Bangladesh, while Bangladesh imported products worth $2.84 billion from India, according to the commerce ministry.

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