Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi said that the Northeastern part of the country has immense natural resources accounting for 34 per cent of the country’s water resources and 40 per cent of India’s hydropower potential and therefore the waterways of Assam should be exceedingly utilised to ensure the region’s accessibility to the Southeast Asian countries.
Speaking at ‘Emerging North East 2020’ organised by ASSOCHAM at Maniram Dewan Trade Centre on February 27th, 2020, Mukhi said that considering vast extent of the Brahmaputra and Barak in the state and neighbouring country and the status of national waterway 2 and 16 given to these two rivers, they should be increasingly used to get access to the traditional domestic market of eastern India, along with countries such as Bangladesh and other ASEAN countries.
He also said that considering the strategic location of the Northeast and the region’s vast expanse of fertile farmland and huge untapped human capital, Northeast has the potential to be India’s most prosperous region.
Mukhi also said that the entire Northeast region is an unexplored territory for most investors and it is in this context ASSOCHAM can play a catalytic role in shaping up the trade, commerce and industrial landscape of the entire Northeast region more particularly Assam.
He also said that the Central government has been focusing on the development of the Northeast region through its pro-active ‘Act East Policy’. As part of this policy, the Centre is focusing on reducing the isolation of the region by improving all-round connectivity through road, rail, telecom, power and waterways, the Governor added.
Mukhi also said that North East is the gateway to South East Asian countries and India needs to leverage this opportunity. He also said that works have been taken up to open up both road and rail routes of the region to the neighbouring countries. “This should give a boost to the economic development of the region and enhance the exports from India,” he said.
He also said that adequate steps should be taken for the region to become an epicentre of organic farming and sustainable development of agriculture and food processing.
The Governor also said that India is one of the key food producers in the world and its food processing industry is one of the largest in the country. India’s food processing industry is well-positioned in the world and has been chosen as the regional hub for exports.
He also emphasised that there is also a need to emphasize and recognize aquatic resources as a part of an integrated farming system to boost the income of the farmers.
He also said that in view of the immense possibility of food processing industry, Assam government is also working synergistically with the Centre for creating facilities for storage, processing, grading and marketing, thus ensuring that surplus fruits and vegetables do not go waste. For the development of North Eastern Region and to bring it at par with the rest of the country, maximum emphasis needs to be given to food processing and allied sectors, the Governor exhorted.
Addressing the assembly, Industries and Commerce Minister, Chandra Mohan Patowary said, “Many of ASEAN capitals are within 2,000 km flying distance from Guwahati which is comparable to flying distance of Guwahati to many Indian cities. With positional advantage of sharing over 4,500 km of international boundary – North East Region has all the potentiality of emerging as the new engine for India’s growth.”
The Minister added in order to exploit the tremendous potential for the development of the region, added impetus needs to be put on infrastructure development and investment in the industrial sector. “Government of Assam will fulfill all roles for supporting public as well as private investment in sectors such as transport, health, energy and power, agriculture and allied sectors, industries, tourism, science and technology and human resource development,” Patowary said.
Secretary General of ASSOCHAM Deepak Sood, Zonal Manager of National Small Scale Industries Avinash Choudhary, Secretary, Horticulture, Sikkim MT Sherpa and a host of other dignitaries were also present in the inaugural function.