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Private firms finally eye NE
Published on 25 Sep. 2008 12:58 AM IST
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India’s northeastern states can now hope for improvement in infrastructure and more business opportunities with as many as 247 companies showing interest in investing in the region, especially in the tourism sector, officials said Wednesday. Fifty-three firms have expressed interest in the tourism sector alone, which is a leap from the meagre 14 last year, said an official of the ministry of Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER). The keenness to invest in the picturesque region increased after the Fourth Northeast Business Summit that took place Sep 15-16 in Guwahati, Assam. A total of 247 firms showed interest in the region at the conclusion of the summit. While Assam attracted maximum interest with a total of 64 companies wanting to invest there, the other seven states also received a lot of attention. Before the summit, DoNER Minister Mani Shankar Aiyer had said the private sector was not showing much enthusiasm to invest in the northeast. ‘For instance, in the Information Technology (IT) sector, although 20 percent of the workforce in the country is from the northeast, just one IT company has approached us to invest in the region,’ Aiyer had said. With this year’s summit, the interest seem to have surged a little. According to the DoNER official, over 30 companies in the IT sector are now keen to invest in the region. Maximum interest was, however, seen in the agro and food processing sector, which received queries from 65 firms. More than 70 companies came forth in the infrastructure sector, 53 in tourism and 12 in manufacturing. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between the Indian Chamber of Commerce and its Bangladesh counterpart to promote more trade with the northeastern region. Former tourism secretary M.P. Bezbaruah had earlier told IANS that there was ‘too much dependence on the government’s role in boosting the northeast region’s tourism scenario’, adding that the industry was always ‘private sector-driven’. The picturesque northeast region comprises eight states - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

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