Agartala, May 30: India and Bangladesh have been consistently working towards strengthening their trade relations and to develop people-to-people contacts. India’s North East region shares 1,880-km-long border with Bangladesh, and has potential for developing cross-border trade. In an effort to uplift the socio-economic status of people living on both sides of the border, both countries have been working constantly to develop `border haats’ or markets.

Recently, members of Indo-Bangladesh Border Haat Management Committee laid the foundation stone for proposed border haats at Kasba in Tripura. This will be the second of the proposed four border haats along the Bangladesh-Tripura border to be built by the Ministry of Commerce at an approximate cost of Rs. 2.5 crores.

“Once this construction is over, trade will start. Some items which have been already selected and identified, these are commonly used by the general public. And once this type of haat is introduced, definitely some smuggling will be reduced,” said D K Chakma, senior district administration official, Tripura “This will obviously have a positive effect on relations between the two nations.

People of both nations, who have great regard for each other but are unable to express it, will be able to express it through border haats and further deepen their relations,” said Nazma Begum, Additional District Magistrate, Brahmanbaria District, Bangladesh. Each border haat will have 25 vendors from each side, and will sell local commodities once or twice a week.The commodities sold in the border haats are exempted from custom duties.

This will not only strengthen economic cooperation, but also develop people-to-people contacts. “Any sort of interaction between common men will help to build friendship. The distance only deteriorates relations. Here, people of both nations are forgetting their caste and religion and unite to strengthen bonds,” said Abdul Kalam, a Bangladeshi villager. Meghalaya already has two border haats – one at Kalaichar in the West Garo Hills District and in Balat in the East Khasi Hills District. The setting up of border haats is yet another initiative to strengthen economic ties between both countries.