New Delhi: Nitin Gadkari Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and MSMEs has emphasized upon the need of more intensive use of bamboo resources of the country. Inaugurating a virtual Bamboo Exhibition today at Webinar, he said that bamboo has a variety of uses in various fields like buildings and interiors, handicrafts, agarbatti making, garments, bio-fuel resource, etc.
Shri Gadkari asked various sectors to utilize various modes and methods to bring down logistics costs including choosing more cost-efficient transit mode like water, rail or road. He informed that a 3 metre dredging of Brahmaputra River has made it possible to use waterways for transporting goods. Using river transport would come very handy in transportation cost reduction for Bamboo and Bamboo products originating from North East.
Shri Gadkari also asked Ministry of DONER to formulate a comprehensive Bamboo Policy as most of the Bamboo is produced in North East. The Minister recalled how he took up the matter of doing away with the need of permission to cut bamboos with the Prime Minister who directed the Forest Authorities to follow suit as bamboo fall in the category of grass with the character of regeneration.
Calling for production of high yielding bamboo varieties, he said, for industrial use bamboo yield should be 200 tonnes per acre against about 40 tonnes per acre in case of some varieties. The greater yield and wider bamboo usage will open up more employment generation especially in North East India.
Shri Gadkari advised that Bamboo sticks may be reduced to bamboo bales so that moisture is removed therefore making transportation easier and further cheaper as also increasing its calorific value. He suggested IITs may be roped in to undertake a pilot project in this regard.
He also suggested making available more incentives to Bamboo production, processing and handling and said this will go a long way in developing the bamboo based industry.
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr Jitendra Singh said that India is destined to play a major role in Post-COVID economic resurgence and North Eastern Region will play a crucial role in it with full exploitation of huge Bamboo resources. Union Minister said that it is imperative to make Bamboo a Pan India perspective for its growth and utilization. He said that Bamboo will be the new fuel of New Engine that is North East for India’s growth story.
Dr. Jitendra Singh said that Ministry of DoNER and North Eastern Council is taking all measures for tapping Bamboo resources and technical know-how at all India level. He said that Ministry had already decided to develop three Bamboo Clusters in Jammu, Katra and Samba areas for making of Bamboo basketry, Agarbatti and Bamboo Charcoal as well as setting up of Bamboo Technology Centre. The Minister said that his Ministry is already exploring Bamboo reserves in different parts of the country for exploitation of its full potential. He said, during the last four years, Ministry of DoNER has sanctioned 17 projects for development of bamboo in NE States, including a Bamboo Industrial Park at Dima Hasao in Assam.
The Union Minister said that around 40% area under bamboo is in North Eastern States. However, this potential of Bamboo for North Eastern Region not being fully utilized due to restrictions in movement of Bamboo under Indian Forest Act, 1927. He said, the sensitivity with which the Modi government views the importance for the promotion of Bamboo is evident from the fact that it has amended the century old Indian Forest Act by taking home grown bamboo out of the purview of the Forest Act, in order to enhance livelihood opportunities through bamboo.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, another major reform was to increase the import duty on bamboo sticks raised to 25%. This decision has paved the way for setting up of new Agarbatti stick manufacturing units to meet the ever-growing demand of Agarbatti in India. He said, the Agarbatti industry has 5 to 6 thousand crore of market share in India, but bulk of it were imported from countries like China and Korea.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that Bamboo has great potential for its use as a clean source of energy and can also replace the single use plastic, thus promoting the environment and Climate cause in India.
Secretary DONER Dr Inderjit Singh also spoke on the occasion.