Both West Bengal and Assam chief ministers have pitched their states as gateways to ASEAN, although both disagreed to compete with each other in matters of attracting investment. “We are in a clear advantage in terms of tapping the ASEAN and South East Asian markets,” Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said. “We share 4800 kilometres of international border with four countries,which West Bengal doesn’t have. We have land route to Maynamar, water route to Chittagong. So, our access is direct to the international markets,” Assam’s commerce and industry minister Chandra Mohan Patwari added.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee citing the state’s ready infrastructure said West Bengal’s rank has gone up to 3rd from 15th in the ease of doing business since the state has fulfilled 336 parameters out of 372 parameters. “The rest 32 we will fulfil shortly,” Banerjee said.
Both were speaking in the Horasis Asia meet, where 300 participants from industries gathered from across the world.
While Banerjee claimed that her government attracted investment worth Rs 1.82 lakh crore in the last three years, Sonowal said that Assam has made a humble beginning by attracting Rs 6500 crore investment in the last one year. ” All the industries have come into operation,” Sonowal said adding that there has been renewed focus by the centre on Assam and the centre has formed an Act East department to monitor the infrastructure development taking place. Every 15 days there is one minister visiting Assam to monitor the developments and Rs 2 lakh crore has been sanctioned by the centre to enhance infrastructure in the state.
A high power committee has also been formed under the chairmanship of deputy chairman Niti Aayog to combat the problems for rainfall in all the north eastern states, since the rains created obstruction in the pace of progress of infrastructure projects. Dredging has also been undertaken from Sadia to Dhubri in the Brahmaputra and Sadia rivers and there is a visible sense of action going on in Assam, Sonowal said.
Banerjee said that industrial captains of the state were driving investments in West Bengal and the government played a little role in matters of drawing investment.
While Assam for the firs time will hold Global Industrial Summit in February next year, West Bengal’s Global business summit will be held in January next year. Although Assam has identified infra, agri, food processing, plastics, medical and pharma as their focus sectors, it wants to drive its industrial growth riding on its legacy of tea, timber, coal and oil, Sonowal said.