Bamboo clusters being set up in J&K to provide employment opportunities to 25k people: Jitendra Singh
New Delhi: The Centre is planning to set up bamboo clusters across the country and first such initiative will be taken in Jammu and Kashmir, thereby providing direct employment opportunities to about 25,000 people in the union territory, Union minister Jitendra Singh said on Friday.
Singh, Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), said around 35 percent areas in the northeastern states are under the bamboo cultivation and the potential of the grass in the region was not fully utilised till restrictions on its movement were lifted by the Modi government by amending the century-old Indian Forest Act last year.
The DoNER ministry plans to set up bamboo clusters across India, beginning from Jammu and Kashmir, he said presiding over a high-level meeting here.
Singh said three bamboo clusters will be developed in Jammu, Katra and Samba for making bamboo basketry, incense sticks and bamboo charcoal, which will provide direct employment opportunities to about 25,000 people and an MoU in this regard is at the final stage.
He said soon a team of DoNER ministry officials will visit Jammu and explore a field training programme for bamboo farming in the region.
The minister said the experience of northeastern states will help implement such a scheme in Jammu and Kashmir and it will strengthen the economic conditions of the artisans and also assist in commercial exploitation of bamboo grown in this region.
The minister said a workshop-cum-exhibition was organised in January last year in collaboration with the Jammu and Kashmir administration for the promotion of bamboo.
He said 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 Indian Forest Act by taking home-grown bamboo out of the purview of the Forest Act, in order to enhance livelihood opportunities.
Another major reform, Singh said, was to increase the import duty on bamboo sticks from 10 percent to 25 percent.
This decision has paved the way for setting up of new incense sticks’ manufacturing units to meet the ever-growing demand of incense sticks (agarbatti) in India.
There has been no import of the raw material since September 2019 and local bamboo produce is being used for this, he said.
Singh said there are huge reserves of bamboo spread across Jammu and Kashmir, which have remained unexplored and largely unutilised so far.