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Mizoram to set up northeast India's first SEZ

Chief Minister Zoramthanga says they have already started the process to establish the SEZ at Khawnuam village in Champhai district bordering Myanmar.
IANS | By Sujit Chakraborty
UPDATED ON MAY 24, 2008 12:07 PM IST

Mizoram will set up northeast India's first Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

"We have already started the process to establish the SEZ at Khawnuam village in Champhai district bordering Myanmar," said Chief Minister Zoramthanga.

"We have urged the North Eastern Council (NEC) to sanction Rs.91.3 million to build the necessary infrastructure to set up the SEZ in the eastern part of the state, which shares borders with Bangladesh besides Myanmar," Zoramthanga told IANS.

He has discussed the matter with Minister for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) Mani Shankar Aiyar.

"The DoNER minister gave us a positive response and he would take up the matter with the union finance and industry ministries too," he added.

He said: "The proposed SEZ, for which a detailed project report (DPR) has already been submitted to the NEC, would go a long way in boosting employment, trade and economy and to use the state's vast agricultural and horticultural resources effectively."

"The main purpose of setting up the SEZ is to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and boost the economy. Moreover, it is expected to generate additional employment opportunities.

"We are extremely hopeful of investment from Thailand, Bangladesh, South Korea and Malaysia for industrial and commercial projects on this SEZ," the chief minister added.

"Although Mizoram's literacy rate is high (88.49 percent of the state's 900,000 population are literate according to the 2001 census), it was the lack of adequate finance and suitable opportunity that slowed down the economic growth," the militant leader turned politician said.

Bamboo-based industries are expected to play a big role in the proposed SEZ. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has estimated that Mizoram, with an area of 21,090 sq. km, has 20 bamboo species in groves covering 1,254,400 ha, contributing 14 percent of all the bamboo produced in India.

The state government had earlier signed an agreement with a Bangladeshi paper manufacturer (Nitoy-Niloy paper and pulp industry near Dhaka) to supply bamboo chips for their factory. These bamboo chips would be exported through the Sutarkandhi areas of Karimganj in southern Assam.

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