The border trade between India and Bangladesh has come as a boon to people in land-locked Tripura, who were at a disadvantageous position compared to people in other states when it comes to availability of goods.
Kolkata is 1,700 km from Agartala, while Dhaka and Chittagong are within 140 km range of Tripura. Goods from these two cities are made available in Tripura through Land Customs Stations.
“We can take the advantage of proximity and therefore reduced transport cost to get the commodities here easily,” Prashanta Bhattacharya, President of Indo-Bangla Chamber of Commerce, Tripura Chapter, said.
This is despite the fact that there is a huge trade imbalance between the two countries in favour of India. However, the picture is totally different when it comes to trade between Tripura and Bangladesh.
Bangladesh exported goods worth Rs 342.65 crore to Tripura last year, while it imported goods worth just Rs 0.41 crore only, according to Union Ministry of Commerce data.
“The trade gap between Bangladesh and Tripura is huge, but still we gain because the products are being available in the state market,” Bhattacharya said.
The trade will get a further boost when the 15 km railway track connecting Agartala and Akhaura in Bangladesh is completed by 2015, facilitating setting up of four more border markets, he said.
Not only availability of goods, the enhanced border trade has led to employment generation as well, Secretary of Tripura Chamber of Commerce M L Debnath said.
Tripura is bound by Bangladesh on three sides constituting 85 per cent of the state’s total border. It has seven Land Custom Stations which are Agartala, Srimantapur (Sonamura), Khowaighat (Khowai), Manu (Kailashahar), Old Raghnabazar (Dharmanagar), Belonia (South Tripura) and Sabroom (South Tripura).
Informal trade through some points of the border has also contributed its part in the goods availability, Pabitra Kar, former chairman of the Tripura Industrial Development Corporation, said.