Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today asked ASEAN countries and NRIs to explore investment opportunities in his state and join its development process by setting up industries there. Addressing the ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Divas’ here, Sonowal said the Assam government has been putting great emphasis on creating a business-friendly environment and bringing investments to the state. “Assam has very fertile land, abundant rainfall and produces significant quantity of fruits and spices. Assam has a tremendous potential for agro processing industry,” he said in the presence of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Sonowal said the state ranks 3rd amongst the raw silk producing states in India and has the highest concentration of bamboo resources. The chief minister said Assam Tea is famous throughout the world and the state has around 850 tea gardens and 1,30,000 small tea growers.
“You will be amazed to know that there are 20 golf courses and heritage clubs embedded in the scenic tea gardens. The Petroleum industry in India started at Digboi in Assam and we have today four refineries and significant petroleum as well as natural gas reserves,” he said. Sonowal also highlighted Assam’s 20 million people in the working age group who can herald a new era for youth led development. “The state has a large pool of skilled workforce, adept in IT, English language and communication skills. Assam intends to make over 1 million people job ready with advanced skills,” he said.
Referring to the forthcoming Republic Day which will be attended by heads of 10 ASEAN countries, the chief minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put India’s Northeast at the heart of ‘Act East Policy’. “We have been inspired by his visionary leadership and have stepped up our efforts in increasing interaction with ASEAN countries with the support of our External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj,” he said.
Sonowal said Assam and the Northeast are close to ASEAN nations and the region had land borders with Myanmar. “Many of ASEAN capitals are within 2,000 kilometre flying distance from Guwahati which is comparable to flying distance of Guwahati to many Indian cities. We are keen to start flights between Guwahati and ASEAN capitals. There is a motorable road link, the ASEAN trilateral highway connecting North East and ASEAN. The Government of India is working to improve this land route,” he said.
The chief minister highlighted Assam’s strong historical and cultural relations with South East Asia saying Choulung Sukapha, the founder of the Ahom dynasty, which ruled Assam for 600 years, came to Assam from South East Asia in the 13th century and laid the foundation of modern day Assam. Sonowal also invited the industrialists and NRIs from the South East Asian nations to participate in the global investors summit ‘Advantage Assam’ to be held in Guwahati on February 3-4.