Agartala, May 22: The first one of the four proposed border markets with Bangladesh in Tripura was opened at Kasba under Bishalgarh subdivision in Sipahijala district yesterday.
The market, located within 150 yards of the zero line and about 35km from Agartala, has come up close to the tourism complex near the famous sixteenth century Kamaleshwari temple.
The additional district magistrate of Sipahijala, Dilip Chakma, and his counterpart in Bangladesh’s Brahmanbaria district, Najma Begum, jointly inaugurated the border market in front of a sizable audience. Thousands of Bangla-deshis witnessed the inauguration from the other side.
The market, the construction of which will be completed within three months at a cost of Rs 2.32 crore, generated enthusiasm on the Bangladesh side and the people appeared disappointed at not being allowed to enter the Indian side to attend the inauguration.
Najma Begum gave expression to the disappointment when she said while culturally the two people shared a common heritage and language, the barbed wire fencing erected on the border was standing in the way of closer relations.
Chakma said the market would be constructed within three months and its full-fledged functioning would “facilitate regular transaction of goods between traders of both the countries to mutual benefits”.
Besides Kasba, three more border markets will be opened at Akhaura near Agartala, Raghna in Dharmanagar subdivision of North Tripura and Kamalpur in Dhalai district in the first phase in accordance with the bilateral agreement between India and Bangladesh.
“Akhaura is already an integrated checkpost and work on constructing the border market is in an advanced stage. Work is in progress on the other border markets also,” said Bikash Dhar, deputy director in the department of industry and commerce. He said after these four were completed, more border markets would be opened in South Tripura and Dhalai districts.
Dhar, however, said the border trade between India and Bangladesh was helping the neighbouring country to narrow down its balance of trade with India.
“At present, Bangladesh exports goods worth more than Rs 300 crore but imports goods worth less than Rs 6 crore annually from Tripura. This is natural because we have very little to export to Bangladesh whereas we need many things from that country,” he said.
While the balance of trade with India is heavily against it, it has the upper hand in its border trade with Tripura.