Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr Jitendra Singh today said that beginning from Jammu & Kashmir, his Ministry plans to set up Bamboo Clusters across India.Presiding over a high level meeting of the Ministry, Dr Jitendra Singh informed that a Workshop cum Exhibition in collaboration with the Government of Jammu & Kashmir for Bamboo Promotion was organized in the month of January this year at State Convention Centre, Jammu. He said that three Bamboo Clusters will be developed in Jammu, Katra and Samba areas for making of Bamboo basketry, Agarbatti and Bamboo Charcoal which will provide direct employment opportunities to about 25,000 people and an MoU in this regard is at final stage.The Union Minister said that around 35% 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.The Minister said that 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 from 10% 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. There has been no import of raw batti since September 2019 and local bamboo produce is being used for this.Dr Jitendra Singh disclosed that there are huge reserves of bamboo spread across Jammu & Kashmir, which have remained unexplored and largely unutilised. He said that as part of the initiatives taken at the behest of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to replicate good practices of all ministries in the newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the North Eastern Council, Ministry of DoNER through Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre(CBTC) also took itself the technical knowhow and experience in the field of Bamboo Sector in Jammu & Kashmir in the form of Workshop cum Exhibition in January this year and it will be organized throughout the country after COVID-19.Dr.Jitendra Singh said that soon a team from the Ministry will again visit Jammu and explore a field training programme for Bamboo farming in the region. He said that the experience of North Eastern states will help the artisans of UT of Jammu and Kashmir to better their economic conditions and also assist in commercial exploitation of bamboo grown in this region and in the rest of India.