New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) The northeast today is virtually free from the problem of insurgency and investors should look at exploiting the multiple opportunities the region offers, Rajya Sabha member from Mizoram Ronal Sapa Tlau has said.
Speaking at an open house discussion on “Act East Now” organised by Assocham here on Wednesday, Tlau said his state suffered from insurgency for 20 years starting till 1986.
“People tend to think that the northeast is still facing the problem of insurgency,” he said. “But Mizoram is today the most people region in the country now.”
The Congress MP said though Mizoram was still 20 years behind the rest of the country in terms of development, the issue of connectivity with the state was by and large being solved by three big projects – broad gauge railhead, rail connectivity from Kolkata and the Kaladan multi-modal transport project connecting Sittwe port in Myanmar with the state.
He identified four agricultural and horticultural products investors could invest in his state – asparagus, passion fruit, dragon fruit and kiwi.
He also said that bamboo was another sector that could be exploited in the region with its uses in furniture, flooring and textiles.
The CPI-M Lok Sabha member from Tripura, Jitendra Choudhury, said each northeastern state had a variety of fruits and vegetables “but the amount we produce today can be increased by at least 10 times”.
He pointed out that Tripura was the second largest producer of rubber in the country after Kerala.
Given the region’s biodiversity and variety of culture, Choudhury said tourism was another area that could be developed in a major way.
He also stressed on the power generation capacity of the region with Tripura and Meghalaya already being self-sufficient and Arunachal Pradesh having the potential to generate 100,000 MW.
Choudhury said that with its large English-speaking manpower, the northeast was ideal for the IT industry and BPO sector.
In this connection, he reminded the participants that after Chennai and Mumbai, Tripura now has the third internet gateway in the country via Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.
The Congress Rajya Sabha Member from Assam, Bhubaneswar Kalita, said that prior to independence, the British invested in sectors like tea and oil in his state despite there being virtually no infrastructure then.
“We have the world’s oldest oil refinery (in Digboi). We developed all these even when there was no infrastructure,” Kalita said.
He said that the northeast has a lot of potential in terms of natural resources and human resource but lamented that after independence, foreign direct investment had not come to the region.
The Congress Lok Sabha member from Meghalaya, Vincent Pala, said that in agriculture “we earlier looked at only rice and maize, but now we are growing cash crops and flowers”.
Stating that airports in the northeast were getting modernised, he sought a proposal from the business community for drafting an ease-of-doing business policy in the region.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, D.S. Rawat, Secretary General of Assocham, said that his organisation had opened a liaison office in the northeast and he personally had visited every state in the region.
He stressed on herbal development and entrepreneurial training, particularly in the food processing sector.
Other areas he focussed on were small and medium enterprises, organic farming and solar energy.