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NEW DELHI: Bamboo, the poor men’s timber abundantly found all over North East, can change the fate of the people of the region post COVID-19 crisis, the Union Minister of State Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Jitendra Singh said on Saturday.
“Bamboo is vital to India’s post-pandemic economy and will provide an opportunity for North East and the rest of the country to emerge as an economic power with the support of its bamboo resources,” Singh said.
He was addressing a Bamboo Conclave through video conference here, along with representatives of DoNER and Union Ministry of Agriculture, and stakeholders from different sectors.
Singh said North East consists 60 per cent of India’s reserve of bamboo. “It is a great advantage that over the last six years bamboo has been accorded highest priority for the development of the North East. Within this time, the bamboo sector has also received the kind of boost which it had never received since independence,” he added.
Referring to the amendment in the 100-year-old Indian Forest Act brought about by the Modi government in 2017, Singh said home-grown bamboo has been exempted in the law in order to enhance livelihood opportunities.
Even during lockdown, the Ministry of Home Affairs, while allowing limited activities in different sectors, permitted the functioning of bamboo-related activities.
“It is an irony,” said Jitendra Singh, “while the total requirement of ‘agarbatti’ (incense sticks) in India is about 2,30,000 per annum and the market value is up to Rs 5,000 crore, we have been importing a large bulk of it from countries like China and Vietnam.”
In the post-COVID era, it is an opportunity for the Northeastern region to help India become globally competitive and self-sufficient, he said.
“In the near future, the ministry will try to work out a time-bound plan for promotion of bamboo sector and also work out feasibility of public private partnership (PPP),” he said.
The minister said that bamboo can also be processed into multiple products including bio-diesel and green fuel, wooden lumbers and plywood.
“This can change the entire face of the economy and create employment opportunities in multiple sectors,” the DoNER minister added.