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6th North-East Business Summit begins in Mumbai

(3rd from L) Union minister for DoNER B.K. Handique giving away ICC North-East Excellence Awards while Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio (2nd from L) looks on at the 6th NEast Business Summit in Mumbai Friday.
Published on 22 Jan. 2011 12:29 AM IST
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North-Eastern region has huge untapped economic potential, and the challenge is to convert possibilities into success stories, commented union minister for DoNER B.K. Handique Friday.
Handique was speaking as chief guest at the inaugural session of the 6th North-East Business Summit in Mumbai today. The two-day Summit has been organized jointly by union ministry of development of the north-eastern region (DoNER) and Indian Chamber of Commerce.
Handique said that North-East has huge opportunities in strategic sectors like tourism, agro and food processing, organic farming, spices, etc.
Stating that about 2/3rds of India’s total bamboo reserves were in the NER, the minister said rare flora & fauna, medicinal plants & herbs etc. created unique business opportunities for the corporate sector.
He said region’s proximity to south & south-east Asian nations could turn it into an international trade hub, adding that big projects like Kaladan Multimodal Transport project could create stronger bridges of economic & trade cooperation between India and her Asian neighbours, with the NE acting as the gateway.
Also speaking at the summit, Nagaland chief minister, rued that despite sustained efforts by the DoNER Ministry and the ICC, and the ‘Investor Meets’ held as far away as Thailand, Vietnam and New York, there was little tangible investment taking place the region, especially in Nagaland. He asked what was preventing the inflow of investment into the region?’
On the situation in the region, Rio He said though several states are confronted with ‘political movements’ or ‘insurgency’; yet many of them were more peaceful than other states in the country.
Advocating the case of Nagaland, Rio spoke on the climate of peace owing to the ongoing peace process.
Touching upon tourism potential, Rio hoped the New Year gift by the central government in lifting the ‘Protected Area Permit’ system for the three North Eastern States of Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram will provide a much-needed impetus to the tourism industry.
On tourism potential, he expounded on the tourism potential of the region which was rich in scenic beauty, exotic flora and fauna, breathtaking landscape and vibrant cultures.
Making the point, Rio said Nagaland was awarded ‘India’s Most Pictursque Destination of the year 2008’ at the 11th Today’s Travellers Platinum Award. Highlighting the annual Hornbill Festival, he went on to say that Nagaland as the ‘Land of Festivals’ showcased various facets of tribal culture at the annual Hornbill Festival extravaganza from December 1-7. He said during the recent years, the festival assumed an international status with participation of troupes from Japan, Korea, Thailand and Myanmar.
Rio said as Nagas possess inborn trait of hospitality, many have found employment in major hotel chains across India. On this point, Rio invited hoteliers to open hotels in Nagaland as there has been increasing interest by tourists to visit the state.
He also highlighted the potential for agriculture and allied sectors, where almost all the agro-horticultural produce in the State are grown naturally and ‘chemical free’.
He said an Agro and Food Processing Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has been notified by the NIDC where over 50 Hectares of land at the outskirts of Dimapur are available for allotment. He said the SEZ offers several incentives such as duty free imports, excise duty exemption, tax holiday for 15 years etc.
The chief minister said Nagaland was rich in bio resources, especially of floral origin, medicinal plants and other rare species of wild life and mentioned that three of its plants find mention in the Guinness Book of Records, namely – the hottest chilly, the tallest rice and the tallest rhododendron.
Further, he also spoke of horticulture in Nagaland, which has emerged as a business enterprise where flower production has crossed 1.6 million stems of high quality flowers. Development of bamboo was another of Nagland’s rich resource, which was growing at a fast rate. He mentioned about setting up of the Nagaland Bamboo Resource Centre and the state government’s beekeeping ventures through the Nagaland Beekeeping and Honey Mission with target of achieving 5000 MT by 2012 and 20,000 MT by 2020.
The chief minister also pointed out that Nagaland is rich in mineral resources that remain untapped while exploitation of oil had only begun.
He said despite poor infrastructure, subsistence economy, social turmoil, insurgency and an environment of fear psychosis which engulfed the people for decades; the youth have not lagged behind in seizing opportunities when offered such as sports, IT and music etc.
He however lamented that the state along with the north east still suffers from poor connectivity in road, air and telecommunication which have slowed the pace of progress.
He pointed out that the Centre’s Look East policy and the North East Industrial and Investment Policy 2007 needed multiple clearances from various ministries and therefore, suggested they be brought under a ‘Single Window’ clearance mechanism.
He assured that the Nagaland government was committed to facilitate rapid and sustained industrial development through investor friendly policies of providing institutional support and attractive incentive packages to gainfully propel the state and the region to the international economic fora.

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