PARADISE IS HERE
(Sunrise States: Realizing the growth potential of North-East)
Abhijit Duarah Bikram Baruti Debjeet Mazumdar Nayandeep Phukan Prachujya Saikia
JORHAT INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
NORTH-EAST INDIA: PRESENT SCENARIO
• India’s North East Region (NER) is endowed with huge
untapped natural resources.
• The region is endowed with vast natural resources in
terms of forests, biological diversity, hydro-
electricity, the region has remained largely
underdeveloped. A key constraint to the growth has
been poor infrastructure and limited
connectivity, both within the region as well as with the
rest of the country.
• The region, connected to the rest of India by a narrow
stretch of land called the ‘chicken’s neck’, needs
infrastructure to support and ensure significant
investments and developmental aids.
• The region has witnessed series of insurgent activities
and is alienated from the mainland India in terms of
both economic and physical attributes.
• According to World Bank NER has a low-level
equilibrium of poverty, non-development, civil conflict
and lack of faith in political leadership.
Contribution of each state to the net GDP of North-
The total GDP of India is 8,53,495 crores according to Planning
Commission of India for the financial year 2011-12. The contribution of
North-East India is minimal, only 2.3%. The Pie diagram below shows the
contribution of each state to the net GDP of North-East India.
In the following slides plans have been proposed showcasing the growth potentials of NER. From the various
potentials we have chosen some areas and come up with a plan/project for its development. The ideas shown can
be implemented in similar other regions/areas for the overall growth and development of NER.
KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Kaziranga national park is widely known as the only home of the great one horned rhinoceros. It comprises of one of the most dense forest in the world
and is a World Heritage Site. But still, lack of proper exposure is a key constraint to its large scale development.
• Proposal of a ropeway system inside the park within 3 km connecting Mihimukh and Kathpar. Similarly plan can be made to facilitate boating on Difloo
river flowing through the Kaziranga National Park (KNP). A proposed plan for the construction of over-bridges crossing the NH 37 at those places which are
used by the animals as corridors for seasonal shifting of habitat to Burhapahar area especially during the floods.
• Daily Helicopter rides catering to the tourists over areas where wild life especially the one horned rhino is usually found.
• Eco resorts showcasing local indigenous culture, cuisine ,tradition with modern amenities available to attract tourists.
• Wildlife festivals like The Great Kaziranga Mahotsava , Hastimahotsava where wild tamed elephants give delight to spectators. This will also accompany
various local troupes who will showcase their culture and various events will be organized for the participation of wildlife lovers.
• Golaghat will be the nearest Wildlife Information centre featuring Assam Tourism cabs and caravans, tourist guides, tickets, lodging, fooding for
domestic as well as international tourists.
• Motorized paragliding facility near Kaziranga National Park will be a good prospect for tourists recreation.
• Publishing a booklet which will act as information brochure for the above mentioned plans to the tourists.
• Helicopter Ride by Pawan Hans Limited ( Dauphin SA- 365N)
Per Ride Expenditure- `1,00,000 approx; Per Ride Income- `80,000; Minimum rides- 10 (2 Helicopters); Annual income-` 16,00,00,000 approx.
• State Govt Ropeway plan ( Kaziranga Cable Car Project )
Investment- ` 10 crores ( 3 km stretch); Per ride Income- ` 3,600; Minimum Rides- 20 ( 2 cable car); Annual income - ` 1,44,00,000 approx for 3 km ride.
• Government undertaken Eco Resorts Plan - It includes the establishment and development cost of eco resorts, tourism complex, Assam tourism
cabs, Yatriniwas, Upgradation of Golaghat as nearest information centre.
Investment- 33.30 crores rupee; Revenue generated – 8 crores approx. per year from resorts only.
• Establishing a animal welfare centre and undertaking an initiative to help the local dwellers from the income generated from the above plans.
SNAPSHOT OF THE PLAN PROPOSED
INVESTMENT AND INCOME GENERATED
SIKKIM HIGH SPEED RAILWAY NETWORK PROJECT
Sikkim has many untapped natural resources and ancient Monasteries which are hidden at the backdrop of dense forests and high mountainous
terrain and needs an urgent proper connectivity mechanism to ensure full utilization of their tourism aspect. Sikkim’s geography is comparable to
that of South Korea. South Korean railway network system is one of the best in the world which consist of High speed train connectivity in the
nation. Sikkim high speed railway network is a proposed initiative to connect important cities in the region and is one of the first step to introduce
railway network in the Himalayan state. The plan will consist of following objectives and ideas-
** SNAPSHOT OF THE PLAN
• Four important cities will be covered in this project which includes – Lingdong(
North Sikkim), Lingtam( East Sikkim) , Yuksam( West Sikkim), Keozing( South Sikkim).
North Bengal ( New Jalpaiguri Station) will be connected to these cities via Gangtok.
• These four cities are the places where Home stay tourism are going on. Home
stay tourism is an initiative by Sikkim State government to make tourist realize the
lifestyle of local villagers during their short span stay in the village or Eco village. A
display of local cuisine, culture, important monuments will be presented to the
tourists . This will also aid local people to earn livelihood and prosper economically.
• The High speed train network will encompass length and breadth of the state
which will attract lakhs of tourists both domestic as well as international.
The alongside map show the proposed plan to introduce the railway network. The
blue lines depicts the railway tracks and the green dots are the railway stoppages.
These network will be interconnected to each other thus it will provide an easy
mechanism to travel in the region. The above mentioned cities are connected to
other cities via roads and offer numerous opportunities to view the unexplored
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
GDP in percent
• The cities mentioned are the important sites for cultivation of Herbal and Medicinal plants and is one of the major sources of income for
local inhabitants. The home-stay tourism featuring the rich cultural heritage of the tribal area particularly West Sikkim is a great prospect for
tourism which will attract tourists in large numbers.
• Ancient Buddha Monasteries and Shiva temples are the key tourist destinations in this connectivity project.
The investment will be under the Railway Ministry which is approx. ` 175 crores for a track length of 354 km. This project will be constructed on
those areas which are important locations as already shown in the Sikkim map above. The project will be a boon to the local people as it can
become the first step in connecting the region to mainland India via railways. Exposure of enchanting monasteries, monuments to the outside
world will generate revenue and help Sikkim’s tourism to flourish. As a matter of fact that the people of Sikkim are highly optimistic about railway
projects, the proposed plan will be a stepping stone in the future of Sikkim Railways. The proposed high speed train service if undertaken as per
specifications of South Korean train services, will surely boost economic growth.
** The graph below shows the GDP of Sikkim in % for a period of 10 years. It is expected that the GDP will increase @ 5 % per year if proper
development in tourism is planned and executed. Special focus on the Railway Project will generate high revenue for the state.
STILWELL ROAD – ONE ROAD, NUMEROUS OPPORTUNITIES
The Stilwell road or Ledo road is a famous transborder road of World War II era connecting Ledo in Assam and Kunming in China via Myanmar.
Until 1958 the road was functional but after the 1962 Indo-China war the government of India closed down the Indian part of the road. The road
is now in a very worn out state due to a number of reasons including government negligence and natural causes. Reopening of the road will
connect the NER of India with South East Asian nations and will transform the region to a major commercial and tourism hotspot.
Excluding the Indian part of the road the Chinese and Myanmar authorities have already reconstructed their part of the road and are using it
for trade and commerce purposes.
**POSITIVES OF THIS PLAN
Border trade would get a major boost with the opening of Stilwell Road; Indian automobile
components, fruits, grain, vegetables, textiles and cotton yarn could witness strong demand in
almost all the Southeast Asian countries. At the same time, Indian traders can import electronic
gadgets, synthetic blankets, teak, gold and semi-precious stones. The opening of Stilwell Road
could cut costs of Chinese exports to India and vice versa by as much as 30%. Currently Sino-
Indian trade is worth $74 billion annually; this cost-cutting could result in a new surge in trade.
This will also boost the tourism sector as the tourists will have a low cost alternative
passage into the country.
Many of the tribes in NER have their origin in the greater South-East Asian region.
Reopening of this road will help them to connect to their roots and this will promote cultural
exchange between countries .
• Due to security concerns and threat of illegal smuggling the government has not favored this ambitious project. We propose setting up a
special army division to counter the external threats, it would include ITBF, also the now dysfunctional Assam police 2nd line of defense can be
• A MoU will be signed between the trading countries and an action plan will be devised to regulate trade and commerce.
• The Central Govt with consultation with the NER state governments should take initiatives in identifying potential places and developing
them as commercial hubs. E.g. – auction centres, resorts, hotels, office buildings, shopping malls, multiplexes etc.
AGRICULTURE : PRESENT SCENARIO AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN
The North Eastern Region of India comprising the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and
Tripura has a total geographical area of 18.37 million ha of which about 55% is under forest cover. About 1.2 million ha. is under cultivation and it
produces a very meagre proportion of food grains (1.5%). Ironically Eastern and North Eastern regions hold enormous potential for development
of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and fisheries with the fact that North-Eastern region falls under the high rainfall zone. Huge
increase in production can be achieved in the region simply by using available and accessible technologies. .
**Some plans to accelerate the production of agriculture in NER:
•Rice based Farming Systems: As rice is the main crop in the NER, rice based
farming systems involving pisci-culture and rearing of animals/small
ruminants, poultry, piggery and goat may be introduced in the form of an
integrated farming system.
•Utilisation of rice–fallow areas: As the region is largely unirrigated, the single
crop that is taken, usually rice, is followed by fallow. However, the residual
moisture in the soil being high, it is possible to cultivate a second crop like Rabi
crops e.g. oilseeds, pulses or vegetables, with the application of appropriate
• Location-specific Diversified Farming Systems: Large areas of NER which are
prone to water logging, can be put under profitable aquatic farming systems
for Makhana, Singhara, Swamp-taro, etc. as well as fisheries.
• Agro–forestry: The NE region can be used profitably for agro-forestry.
Nagaland has pioneered an excellent method of upgrading jhum by interposing
a strong and increasing component of agro-forestry through assisted tree
planting of selected fast growing economic timbers. 500 villages have already
been covered, with farmers planting up to 100 trees each in their jhum
fields, calculated to yield a harvest of Rs.1 lakh each on a 10 year jhum cycle.
The graph below shows the production of cereal crops in
NER during the last decade.
• Organic farming: The low input intensity of the region gives it a natural
advantage in production of organic food, organic manure, bio-products, etc.
The region can be promoted as a centre for organically produced eco-friendly
goods. This will provide opportunities for production and marketing of organic
products, health food, eco- and bio- goods, herbal medicine, etc through an
integrated strategy for sustainable and equitable utilization of its natural
resources and bio-diversity.
• Special thrust on fruit and vegetable: The soil and climatic conditions are
congenial for growing a large variety of vegetables and fruits. There are
numerous pockets covering sizable areas which are favourable for cultivation of
potato, turmeric and fruits like litchi, mango, banana, orange including root and
tuber corps, mushroom, floriculture, medicinal and aromatic plants, spices.
Beekeeping has traditionally been an important activity in NER.
• Development of floriculture: The NER has the potential to emerge as the
major supplier of floriculture products, especially rose, orchids and cut flowers.
The potential needs to be tapped by bringing together the efforts of various
agencies and a robust market development.
• Potential for fisheries: Keeping in view of the vast and varied aquatic
resources available in the region for fish production, this area can yield
substantial returns. The region has vast potential for fisheries by enhancement
of rivers, streams, floodplains, wetlands, reservoirs, lakes, ponds, etc. Of the
approximately 806 species of fish inhabiting fresh waters of India, the North
Eastern region represents 267 species belonging to 112 genera, amounting to
33.13% of total fish diversity of India.
**SOME NOTEWORTHY PROSPECTS
• Kumol Chaul ( Soft Rice) which is consumed as a
supplementary food item in Assam has been proposed
for use in the Indian Army.
• Bhut Jolokia ( Hottest chili in the world) is going to be
weaponized by the Indian Army in special tear gas
type hand grenades for crowd control.
• Bao-Dhaan( Red Rice) has recently found great
demand in the global market thanks to it being organic
by default, apart from having a high content of
iron, protein, vitamins and other nutrients.
• Fertile river beds after flood every year in
Brahmaputra valley can be used to cultivate onions to
make NER region self sufficient in onions.
• Water Hyacinth grows naturally in abundance in the
ponds, lakes, etc. Although it is considered a weed
responsible for many problems we can find some
useful applications of the plant. The shoot of the plant
can be used to extract fibers which can be used in
making of paper, yarn, ropes , basket, etc.
The agricultural sector of this region will find its
way ahead by taking into account the above
Localized non-conventional power generation in remote areas:
The north eastern region comprises of several hilly rivers with gorge
streams. These water sources of extreme kinetic energy can be made
use for local hydel power generation. In remote areas of this region
having such streams , mini hydel projects can be setup so that at least
that specific region becomes self sufficient in terms of power
requirement . This will eradicate the need to depend upon electricity
companies by providing low cost electricity to
households, schools, health units, rice mills, flour mills etc in those
Wind power harnessing in Arunachal Pradesh is a new prospect of
energy generation to save the state from energy crisis. Recently
,NEEPCO has agreed to take a project of wind harnessing in the region
which will produce energy of about 213 MW. As the terrain of the state
consists of a part of eastern Himalayas , wind here is of very high speed
,which if harnessed properly promises great future in further such
SOME OTHER GROWTH POTENTIALS
Nature has endowed NER with favourable climatic and
environmental conditions, which makes her the natural
homeland of various silk producing worms and their food
plants. The NER has been traditionally practicing sericulture
particularly mulberry, muga and eri. Since ancient times it has
been playing a vital role in upliftment of the rural economy.
Sericulture can generate employment for a large number of
unemployed people especially females. Muga silk has a
tremendous global market potential.
For making a ‘pat sadar’ (silk fabric) in hand loom one
weaver is paid about 700 rupees and it takes an average of 6 to
7 days. So it is estimated that one weaver can earn maximum
100 rupees per day. However if machine looms are used a
weaver can produce the same in half a day and earn more.
Creation of specific plans to industrialise sericulture will
provide employment and contribute to economy of NER.
Bio-diesel from Jatropha:
As the fossil fuel reserves are depleting countries are researching for alternative sources of energy. One such type is production of bio-diesel
from Jatropha plant. The advantage of this Jatropha oil is that it can be used directly after extraction (i.e. without refining) in diesel
generators and engines. The NER has enormous potential for plantation of Jatropha in its vast wastelands. Jatropha plantation has already
been undertaken in Arunachal Pradesh. The region is capable of producing 510 tons of Jatropha oilseeds from approximate 1700 hectare of
wastelands. This will contribute to reduce India’s oil imports by 2% per year.
MUSHROOM CULTIVATION: Mushrooms are the fleshy and edible fruit bodies of several
bodies of micro fungi. It is a vegetarian food and is rich in protein, fibre, and amino acids. It is
good for diabetes and joint pains and has excellent medicinal properties. Thus mushroom is of
huge demand in world food market and has good export potential for countries such as
China, Singapore, Dubai, and Europe. India’s mushroom export ranks sixth in world with a
market share of 4.44 %. India can grow temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical mushrooms and
North-east can be developed as ‘mushroom bowl of the country.’ Mushrooms require
different climate regimes specially the temperature, and therefore can be grown in various
regions and seasons in the NE.
Mushroom production requires very little land and can be a good source of
employment for educated unemployed youth. The two primary inputs for mushroom
production – agro-waste and labour are easily available. Mushroom can be cultivated at low
cost from Rs.50,000 to Rs.1 lakh. A kg fetches at least Rs.200 and the profit margin is 30 to 40
per cent. A crop requires 45 days and at least 1.5 tonnes can be harvested per crop. In an
average, 10 tonnes per unit is possible per annum.
BAMBOO AND CANE INDUSTRY: Bamboo and
Cane are raw materials of great versatility and forms
an integral part of the lifestyle and economy of
Assam. It is practiced as a household industry and no
mechanical device is used. It requires little
investment and training and provides employment to
unemployed uneducated youth. At present, there
are vast untapped resources of bamboo that can
open up avenues for utilization of bamboo for many
productive works. Such a huge surplus of bamboo is
not found elsewhere in India. Cane is also found in
abundance almost throughout the state. The industry
has considerable scope for development and various
new products suited to modern tastes can be
manufactured out of bamboo and cane. Market
intelligence is required to be developed so that
products can be made to cater to the need of the
Cane furniture has an unparalleled stand in
the industry with its long lasting tensile strength and
light weightiness. The best feature of a cane product
is its eco friendliness and bio degradability. Cane
products have an innate ability to resist fungal and
bacterial attack. It can be elegantly designed to
chairs, sofas, tables, cradles, cots, willows, hanging
chairs, bamboo curtains etc. The government should
take initiative to introduce it to the global market.
RUBBER CULTIVATION: Rubber cultivation can be done in Arunachal
Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, lower reaches of hills of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and
Tripura in NER. The agro-climatic conditions obtained here are unique for rubber cultivation.
Tripura already has 26,500 hectare area of rubber plantation and production is about 10,000
MT per year. The availability of good quantity of high quality rubber offers scope for setting
up of rubber-based industries in the state. Rubber cultivation is also proving to be an
effective means of weaning away the ill effects of ‘jhum’ cultivation like soil erosion, land
degradation etc. The rubber board has already taken initiative in other NE states for
accelerated development of rubber plantation as well as development of infrastructure. The
Board has been providing training to farmers, giving financial assistance, establishing group
processing centres, supplying rubber rollers and rubber sheeting rollers free of cost, etc.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROJECTS
Capital Investment for implementation of projects will be borne by
the central govt. and respective state govt. in a 70-30 % share basis
with consultation from the board of advisors. The money from the
central govt. will be routed through the DONER ministry. Another
way of raising capital for the projects is PPP (Public Private
Partnership) between govt. and private entrepreneurs.
The working committee will be headed by chairpersons who are the
state ministers of respective ministry. A premium research institution
e.g. IIT, IIM etc. will head the entire projects and provide the necessary
expertise and research facilities for developing the projects. They will
be assisted by local interested innovators and NGO’s.
REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
• India’s North-East Diversifying Growth Opportunities, Indian Chamber Of Commerce 2013
• Report of The Working Group on Agricultural Development in Eastern and Northeastern India, The Planning Commission of India 2001
• Mushroom Production for the Development of North-East India, Dr. RD Rai, Principal Scientist, Directorate of Mushroom Research, ICAR
• State wise GDP 2012 , VMW Analytic Services
•North –East Enquirer, Special Report, Vol. 2 Issue No. 21
• Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, Vol .9 ( 2 ), April 2010
• Greenwood Resorts Information Brochure
• Sikkim Railway Voice of Sikkim 2013
• Homestay Tourism, Times of India, 28th March 2013
• Look East on Stilwell Road, The Financial Express, 24th March 2012
•Emphasis on Wind Power in Arunachal Pradesh, EAI
• Economic Benefits and Costs of Jatropha, AgEcon Search
• Official website Pawan Hans Limited
• Ledo Road, Wikipedia
• Rubber Plantation North- East India, Official Website NEDFI Databank
• Crafts of North-East Bamboo, Official Website Ignca.