The Government of India has taken up with its Bangladesh counterpart the issue of reopening of two border haats (markets) in Tripura to promote local trade and livelihood of people living on both sides of the border.
In a letter to former Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel has said that the border haats at Kamalasagar in Sepahijala district and Srinagar in South Tripura district were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his letter to Deb, who is currently a Rajya Sabha member of the BJP, Patel said, “We have been consistently taking up the issue of reopening of border haats at Kamalsagar and Srinagar in bilateral meetings with Bangladesh. We look forward to an early resolution of the matter.”
Deb, who resigned as chief minister in May last year, urged the Center to reopen border haats on Tripura’s border with Bangladesh in December 2022 during a special mention in the Rajya Sabha.
Four border haats, two each in Tripura and Meghalaya, have remained closed since March 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown, causing huge losses to people living in border villages.
Two border haats in Meghalaya – Balat (East Khasi Hills district) and Kalaichar (South West Garo Hills district) – were reopened last year and both now open once a week.
Tripura Industries and Commerce Department officials said that Sipahijala and South Tripura district administration officials had on several occasions approached their Bangladeshi counterparts for reopening of border haats as the situation arising out of COVID-19 is now almost under control Is.
Bangladesh officials said the relevant ministries in Dhaka have not yet given permission to reopen the markets, a department official told IANS.
Jaipur-based think tank CUTS International, which has done several studies on border trade, also recommended the Indian government to restart these border markets while taking necessary precautions against COVID-19, as these markets boost the economy. strengthen people-to-people ties and also check illegal trade.