Northeast to focus on bamboo industry: Dr Jitendra Singh
By Our Correspondent, 04/12/2018, New Delhi

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said that with the assistance of Centre, Northeast will focus on bamboo industry in a big way, since this is a sector which has not received the deserved attention inspite of the fact that over 60% of India's bamboo is grown in this region. Addressing the meeting of "NITI Aayog Forum for Northeast" in Guwahati,  Dr. Jitender singh said that under the directions of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi the home grown bamboo has been exempted from the Forest Act.During the meeting,  Dr Jitendra Singh disclosed that the Modi Government has set up new National Bamboo Mission (NBM) to focus on this sector.

The North Eastern Council Cane & Bamboo Development Council (NECBDC) will act as a coordinating and facilitating agency for the North Eastern region, he added.Out of a total outlay of Rs.1,290 crore  till March 2020, Dr Jitendra Singh said, Rs.150 cr to Rs.200 Crore has been allocated for the North Eastern region for the year 2018-19. He said that the priority should be the marketing of high value products like bamboo shoots, candy, bamboo charcoal fiber in fashion Industry, etc. In addition, big industries dealing in fiber, construction material, bamboo engineered wood, etc. are the potential areas which can be envisaged for further expansion, he said.Under the four and a half years rule of the Modi Government,

Dr Jitendra Singh said, there has been a visible and consistent effort to develop the North Eastern region and bring it at par with the other regions of the country. This transformation has been mainly possible because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personal interest and high priority to the region, he said.  And now, the whole country is witnessing and appreciating the revolutionary fast-track change in a short span of time, the Minister said.Dr Jitendra Singh also referred to the growth achieved in the Tourism sector and said that in the last two years, some of the destinations like Gangtok and Shillong received such a heavy tourist rush that there was no accommodation available.

He said, the most significant marker of this change is the fact that now even the private tour operators from South Indian cities like Bengaluru are planning exclusive tourist itineraries for Northeast.Dr Jitendra Singh also referred to the prioritization of the "Tea Sector", considering the fact that more than 850 Tea Estates and  2500 Tea Gardens are located in the State of Assam alone. He also referred to plans and efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in "Fish production" considering that 95% of the region's population consumes fish. Hassle free Visa regime aimed at making travel of foreigners into country pleasant Union Home Secretary Shri Rajiv Gauba has said that creating a simple and hassle free Visa regime is the government’s objective to facilitate arrival and stay of foreign travelers into the country.

Addressing a conference “Streamlining of India’s Visa regime” here today, he highlighted various policy initiatives taken to liberalize the Visa regime, taking into account the concerns and suggestions made by various Ministries and stakeholders, including Ministries of Civil Aviation, Tourism, Health, Higher Education etc.Emphasizing that India has the potential to become a global hub for Education and Tourism, Shri Gauba called for a change in the mindset at the Field level to make foreigners feel welcomed in the country. A friendly Visa regime is also a part of ‘Ease of doing Business’, he added. He said that at the same time, security should also be strengthened, using technological tools.

Citing the recently launched e-FRRO module which provides 27 Visa related services to foreigners, he said it has been very successful and has obviated the need for foreigners to visit FRRO Offices for extending their stay, change of Visa status etc.e-Visa facility now covers 166 countries and foreigners can obtain online Visa within 72 hours for travel related to Tourism, Business, Health, Medical Attendant and Conference purposes, he added.The number of e-Visas issued has seen a tremendous growth during the last four years from 5.17 lakhs in 2015 to 21 lakhs this year till 30th November, 2018. The number of Visas issued through e-Visa system is now approximately 40% of the total number of Visas issued and the figure is soon expected to cross the 50% mark, which is an indication of its popularity.

“Our e-Visa regime is one of the best in the world,” he said.Highlighting some of the other Visa liberalization measures, he cited Relaxation introduced in grant of Internship Visa which can be obtained by a student while still pursuing a course in the country without remuneration, Extension of Business Visa beyond five years, Conversion of Visa into medical category in an emergency for a foreigner who is already in the country and Permission for foreigners who are on long duration Visas to attend conferences.Shri Gauba said suggestions made at the Conference will provide inputs for further reforms in the Visa regime which is an ongoing process. The Conference was attended by Senior Officers from the Ministries of Home Affairs, Civil Aviation, Tourism, Information & Broadcasting, Security Agencies, State Governments and Industry representatives.