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Meghalaya : India-Bangladesh border haat at Kalaichar reopens

The two traditional border ‘haats’ were reopened in the presence of the District Administration officials from both the neighbouring countries has brought relief to villagers living on both sides of the international border

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Shillong: The traditional border “haat” (border market) at Kalaichar in Meghalaya’s South West Garo Hills district and Baliamari in Kurigram district of Bangladesh reopened for trade on Wednesday after remaining closed for more than a year due to COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.

The two traditional border ‘haats’ were reopened in the presence of the District Administration officials from both the neighbouring countries has brought relief to villagers living on both sides of the international border

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During the reopening of the ‘haat’, the administration from the Indian side was represented by Additional Deputy Commissioner, Ampati, A.V.D. Shira along with the team of officials from the district administration and the district police.

As the border trade reopened on Wednesday, the border residents were visibly excited as they would now be able to resume their business after months of uncertainty and earn a decent livelihood before the start of the forthcoming Christmas and New Year festivities.

“We are really happy that the border haat has reopened. All villagers living along the India-Bangladesh border here had been facing immense hardship due to the long closure of the market, as trading here is the major source of livelihood among the peoples living on both sides of the border,” an elderly person, who trades in raw materials said.

A meeting of the Joint Border Haat Management Committee between India and Bangladesh to reopen the Border Haat was held earlier this month in the presence of Deputy Commissioner, South West Garo Hills, Gideon Khawmawphlang and District Magistrate of Kurigram district of Bangladesh, Md. Rezaul Karim at the Border Haat premises, in which both the parties had mutually agreed to reopen Kalaichar-Baliamari Border Haat from November 30, 2022.

Officials from both the neighbouring countries had also consented to trade 62 commodities, increase the number of vendors to 50, beautification of Border Haat and also repair the fencing around the market premises. It was also decided that the Border Haat Committees of the both the countries would sit for a meeting at least once a year.

Meghalaya, which shares 443 km stretch of border with the neighbouring country, is bound to the south by the Bangladeshi divisions of Mymensingh and Sylhet and to the west by the Bangladeshi division of Rangpur.

Presently, there are seven India-Bangladesh border haats, with nine more in the pipeline.

The border “haats” at Balat in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills district – Lauwaghar at Dalora under Sunamganj district in Bangladesh, the Ryngku in East Khasi Hills district -Bagan Bari Duara Bazar in Sunamganj district, Nalikata in South West Khasi Hills-Saydabad, Tahirpur, Sunamganj district has already reopened.

The ‘haats’, were once thriving centres of trade and commerce along the India-East Pakistan (now read Bangladesh) were shut down after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Border markets are popular among 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.

Border Haats enable local residents on both sides of the border to trade in local produces, including agricultural and horticultural, household goods, minor forest products, fresh and dry fish, cottage industry items, wooden furniture, handloom and handicraft and other notified items.

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