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Tripura's demand for border haats unfulfilled

india Updated: Dec 07, 2010 11:16 IST

Tripura government's long-standing demand for setting up markets along the Indo-Bangla border is yet to be fulfilled despite both countries agreeing on the need to set them up years ago.

A proposal to set up the border markets or 'haats' in local language, was part of the Joint Declaration signed by India and Bangladesh during Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina's visit to Delhi in January this year.

Tripura's minister for commerce and industries Jiten Chowdhury regretted that though his government had sent a specific proposal to the Union ministry for trade and commerce, nothing moved.

"The concerned Ministry is yet to act on the state government proposal," he told the Assembly recently.

Government sources said that establishment of border markets had become all the more necessary after border fences came up between the two neighbours, practically ending the flourishing illegal trade.

"Though the fencing helped check insurgent movement and infiltration, it also created problems for the people living on the borders to earn their livelihood with the unofficial trade with Bangladesh stopped," the chairman of the Tripura Industrial Development Corporation and former minister for trade and commerce, Pabitra Kar, told PTI.

As Tripura is a land-locked state, the nearest port is situated 1650 KM away in Kolkata thus explaining the high prices of commodities.

"Tripura has 85 per cent or 856 km of its border with Bangladesh. Kolkata is far away from Agartala and as most of the commodities come from mainland states, they become expensive after paying the transport cost," Kar said.

He said, "the border markets would also do away with rampant smuggling of goods, if not entirely, but at least partly".

The official trade between Tripura and Bangladesh started during 1994-95, but the unofficial trade had been going on since long accounting for a big slice of bilateral trade.