The northeastern region of India is today like the California of 1848 - on the edge of a huge economic boom, according to Minister for Development of Northeastern Region Mani Shankar Aiyar.
"Just as California's economy boomed with the start of the gold rush in 1849, a similar economic boom is just going to happen in the northeast," Aiyar said at the Third Northeast Business Summit, which was inaugurated by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Inviting investors to invest in the region, which the minister described as a goldmine of multiple resources, he said that law and order problems can no longer be cited as a reason for not investing in the state.
"The complaints of law and order problems in the northeast are extremely untrue. Sikkim is completely safe. Mizoram has been having complete peace for 20 years now after the successful peace accord (signed between the central government and the then underground Mizo National Front in 1987). In Tripura, the challenges of insurgency have been met but these have not been reported by the media.
"Large parts of Arunachal Pradesh are completely peaceful. And so is the whole of Meghalaya," he said.
Aiyar also praised Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for successful implementation of the Bodoland accord, which has made this region in western Assam very conducive to investment from outside.
He called upon investors to invest in the state as soon as possible with the new Northeast Industrial and Investment Policy (NEIIP) coming into effect on March 31.
"The earlier you invest, the more you benefit. You will get lifetime advantages by investing in this region," he said, adding that there is exemption of virtually all taxes in almost all sectors of industry except those related with tobacco products.
The summit, organised by the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER) and the Kolkata based trade body Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), is the third in a series that started in 2002.
"The two previous summits didn't produce results. But after this one, I can tell you we are on the verge of a tremendous breakthrough," the minister said.
Inaugurating the summit, Vice-President Shekhawat called for the development of the panchayati raj system to get the ground situation right.
"If the panchayati raj system is properly implemented in the Northeast, it will definitely help develop the infrastructure in rural areas. As Mani Shankar Aiyar himself is also the panachayati raj minister, I urge him to look into this," he said.
ICC president SK Bangur and managing director and chief executive of Hero Corporate Service Sunil Kant Munjal also spoke at the inaugural session.