Advancing industry

Published : Sep 11, 2009 00:00 IST

THOUGH the main thrust of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government of Tripura has been on agriculture, there is a lot of scope for development of trade and industry in the State.

One of the main advantages that Tripura enjoys is a vast reserve of high-quality natural gas, which has a methane content of about 97 per cent with hardly any impurities. At present, the natural gas is being used mainly for power projects. A major advantage in setting up a gas-based project is the concessional prices at which Tripura offers gas to investors from the north-eastern region who are keen on setting up gas-based industrial units.

The States rubber industry is one of the largest industries in the region. The Rubber Board of India has declared Tripura the Second Rubber Capital of India after Kerala. This industry has been identified as one of the thrust areas, and studies have shown that about 100,000 hectares can be brought under rubber plantation. At present, around 35,760 hectares are under rubber cultivation.

The agro-climatic condition in Tripura has enabled it to be one of the countrys tea-growing States. In fact, with around 60 tea estates and about 4,000 small tea growers producing about 7.8 million kilogram of tea every year, Tripura is the fifth largest (after Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala) among the 14 tea-producing States.

Tripuras tea is known for its good blending, and certain tea gardens have also started producing bio-tea. There is considerable demand for bio-tea overseas.

Tripura is known for its traditional handicraft. The handloom products have been acclaimed from ancient times by travellers such as Xuanzang, Tavernier and Abul Fazl. The handloom industry can be divided into two broad sections non-commercial and commercial. The State has several cooperative societies and small-scale cottage industries that engage weavers to produce handloom products of a fine quality.

Cane and bamboo products from the State are very popular. They range from room dividers, wall panels and furniture to decorative pieces from bamboo roots dining table mats, floor mats, and so on. In fact, tourists can go to the various artisan villages and observe craftsmen at their work. The distinct cultures of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam have merged and found expression through the mediums of cane, bamboo, clay, wood and palm leaf in the work of the indigenous artisans, as have the different distinct tribal motifs with Bengali and Manipuri motifs.

The State government has identified information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services as a potential growth sector. With its high literacy rate, a good network of schools and colleges, including a National Institute of Technology (NIT), two polytechnic colleges and eight Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), the scope for development of this sector is enormous. The State government has accorded special status to this industry and extended incentives to potential investors. It has also established Community Information Centres (CICs) in 40 rural development blocks. An independent study conducted by the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFL) has placed Tripura as the second best IT destination in the region after Assam.

With its 856-km international border with Bangladesh on three sides, Tripura is a potential hub for land trade with neighbouring countries. The State government has been taking steps to strengthen the existing infrastructure with a view to promoting the already flourishing trade route.

It has taken a number of initiatives to improve the basic and industrial infrastructure in the State. At present there are five Industrial Estates and one Industrial Area, while an Industrial Growth Centre Project and an Export Promotion Industrial Park are coming up. A Food Park is being set up adjacent to the Industrial Growth Centre.

The State has 448 km of national highways, 689 km of State highways, 90 km of major district roads, and 582 km of BRO (Border Roads Organisation) roads. Of these, black-topped roads account for 4,234 km and brick-soled roads, 3,290 km. The State government has also set a target of improving 120 km of existing road and upgrading 200 km under the Bharat Nirman project.

Chief Minister Manik Sarkar told Frontline, Only assured availability of power and infrastructure will make investors enthusiastic about Tripura. It will not be long before the State starts attracting investment for industry. In fact, investors are already showing interest (Frontline, January 12, 2007).

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay
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