Sylhet: The first-ever border haat in Sylhet division along the India border was launched on Saturday.
Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad and Indian High Commissioner in Sylhet Niraj Kumar Jaiswal jointly inaugurated a border haat that is located between East Khasi Hills of India’s Meghalaya and Sylhet’s Bholaganj in Companiganj upazila.
Minister Imran said the bilateral relationship between the countries will strengthen through establishing the border haat as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina loves friendship.
More haats will be set up on border areas once something good from the haat comes as it is on test, he said.
The minister directed police and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) to remain vigilant so that no smug-gling and misdeeds occurred at the haat.
Commissioner Jaiswal said both the countries will benefit from the haat through exchanging locally-made products.
The Indian high commissioner said the Bangladeshis who have relatives in India will get a chance to meet them at the haat without visa.
Echoing Bangladeshi minister, he announced that more haats to be set up in the district in the days to come while a process is underway to launch the border haat in Sunamganj.
Lushi Kant Hajong, upazila nirbahi officer at Companiganj, said they selected 24 people through a lot-tery to sell their products from the Bangladesh side. Later the rest who applied for selling at the haat will be given the opportunity.
The Haat Management Committee’s Chairman and district’s Additional Magistrate has already distribut-ed the buyer cards to the people who applied for it, he said, adding that the visitor cards will be given to freedom fighters and journalists later.
The UNO said a buyer will be able to take products of a maximum of worth $200 dollars by paying an entry fee of Tk 30 while a seller will have to pay Tk 70 for a day. All the money will be used for reno-vation and development works of the haat.
The haat will sit on Saturday and Wednesday a week and business activities will remain open from 10am to 4pm, he said.
Locally-produced products will be displayed on 26 Bangladeshi and 24 Indian stalls while residents of five kilometers surrounding the haat will get an opportunity to sell and buy products.
Currently activities of 13 border haats are going on between the countries and three more haats are awaited to launch.
In 2018, a deal was inked between the countries to set up border haats to boost trade. As part of this deal, works were begun to establish the haat on one acre of land at the zero point.
With Sylhet’s Deputy Commissioner Md Mujibur Rahman in the chair, Additional District Magistrate Md Imrul Hasan, Superintendent of Police Abdullah Al-Mamun, representatives of India-Bangladesh Border Haat Management Committee, among others, were present at the inaugural ceremony.