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Exclusive: After paper mill, Jagiroad dry fish market’s fate hangs in balance

JAGIROAD: Jagiroad was initially a major industrial town of Assam. The shutting down of one industry after another has, however, left the town with the only identity of one of the largest dry fish markets in Asia. When InsideNE visited that very market for its ground zero assessment, it was learned that the pride of the town was still on a leased plot of land.

Talking to Inside NE, joint secretary of the Dry Fish Market Association Navneet Borthakur said: “This is Asia’s second-largest dry fish market. It is the only major industry alive in the town right now and about 25-30 percent of the local population is earning a livelihood from here. Yet the market is located on a plot of land taken on lease.”

“Infrastructure of our market is very poor. We do not have a proper parking place. Not even a place for loading and unloading,” Borthakur further said.

“Had the governments wished, they could have allotted a plot of land where we could create infrastructure for our market and shops in a more commercially viable way. Also, since it’s on leased land, we are paying a huge amount annually to the owners. The scenario would have been different if we had the government’s support. We could have saved more and also the government could have earned a sizeable amount as revenue from the vendors as rent etc,” the trader added.

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The market exports dry fish to other north-eastern states as well. The market is situated just near the Jagiroad railway station which makes it convenient for commercial purposes. Vendors from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, etc also come to the market for business.

When contacted, the chairman of Jagiroad Development Authority and a Bharatiya Janata Party leader Dibyajit Neog said: “They never raised the issue with us to take this matter into consideration like we have waved their GST (goods and services tax).”

Responding to the same, Borthakur said: “It’s true that GST has never been imposed on us, but we pay a considerable amount as income tax to the government.”

The market has reportedly been growing every year and covers an area of about 30 acres. But, without any proper government support, the future of the market remains uncertain like those of the other industries of the town.

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