Bangladesh minister to visit India in July: Sangma


Shillong: Bangladesh Commerce Minister M. Faruk Khan will visit India in July to sign an agreement for reopening border “haats” (markets) along the international border, former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma said here Saturday.

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“The Bangladesh commerce minister will visit Meghalaya in July to sign the final agreement with India for reopening the traditional border haats,” Sangma, who arrived here from Bangladesh Friday, told IANS.

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.

These border haats stopped after the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.

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.

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.

Sangma, who led an Indian-delegation to Dhaka, met Bangladesh leaders and officials.

He arrived here Friday after attending an international seminar on war crimes trial.

“Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agreed to have land, air and waterways connectivity and especially to allow India to use the Chittagong Port to transport goods to our landlocked region (northeastern states),” Sangma said.

The strategic Chittagong Port located in southeastern part of Bangladesh could help India’s northeastern states and boost its economy. The Indian government has decided to construct a bridge over the Feni river in south Tripura to get access to the port.

“The Chittagong port is being upgraded to take extra load and the authorities are hopeful to complete (upgradation of port) within 18 months and it will be ready to handle cargos from northeastern states,” Sangma said.

During Hasina’s New Delhi visit in January, it was agreed that the construction of the proposed Akhaura (Bangladesh railway station)-Agartala railway link would be financed by India. A joint team of the railway authorities of the two countries will identify the alignment for connectivity.

Bangladesh had earlier agreed to allow India to use its waterways to transport heavy machines for a 740 MW power project under construction in south Tripura. The project is expected to be operational by 2011.