Northeast Vision 2010 launched to attract investment

Wednesday, 18 September 2002, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: The Northeast Vision 2010, hailed as one of the Indian government's biggest moves to attract investors to the region, has been formally launched here.

The Northeast Vision 2010, which was declared open Tuesday evening, is a master blueprint prepared by all the states of the region to bring about rapid economic development by increasing private investment, both domestic and foreign.

It seeks to bring out the potential of the northeast by showcasing its strengths in the areas of infrastructure development, oil, agriculture, food processing, minerals and other core sectors.

Hosted by the Assam government and presided by the state's Governor S.K. Sinha, the function was attended by many diplomats, investors and entrepreneurs.

It will be followed by a three-day conclave in Guwahati, Assam's principal city, from December 12 this year. Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland comprise India's northeastern states.

Encouraging businessmen to invest in the region, Sinha said: "The remoteness of the northeast is an outdated concept. Many states, particularly Assam, have emerged from a long tunnel of darkness with regard to disturbances by militancy. All the state governments in the region are keen to offer all possible help to investors."

The chief ministers of all the northeastern states had earlier met in July in Mumbai for a two-day meeting that was attended by the captains of Indian industry.

Said Bhubaneshwar Kalita, the industry minister of Assam: "The northeastern region had not been able to utilise the opportunities provided by liberalisation. Keeping the recent 'Look East' initiatives of the Indian government in perspective, there is a lot that can be done."

Sharing 98 percent of its geographical border with the neighbouring countries of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China, the potential of the region to be a vital link in fostering trade is immense.

The northeast has 38 percent of India's hydroelectric potential and 25 percent of its forest cover. Despite riches in tea, oil, coal and timber, there has been tardy economic development in the region.

One of the biggest factors restricting growth has been militancy. There are some 30 underground outfits in the region fighting for demands that range from secession to greater autonomy. The resulting violence has scared away investors and entrepreneurs.

Igor Akhimov, one of the foreign participants at the meet, said: "We realise the potential that the northeast states have. It will be interesting to see what we can do. But for that we will need the support of the local governments and the collaboration of major business institutions."

Bhutan Ambassador Dago Tshering told the gathering: "It is good for Bhutan if the northeast develops. Prosperity for Assam and the northeast would also mean prosperity for Bhutan."

Source: IANS
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