Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal (left) with Singapore foreign affairs minister Vivian Balakrishnan in the presence of Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in Singapore on Sunday.

Reiterating Assam government’s resolve in playing a proactive role towards the success of Act East Policy, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that his government is stepping up its efforts in increasing interactions with ASEAN countries including enhancing people to people contact and trade and other relations.

The Assam Kaziranga University admissions

Addressing a Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Singapore on Sunday, Sonowal while expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for keeping Assam and other northeastern states at the heart of Act East Policy, said that Assam government is working very hard for making Guwahati India’s gateway to South East Asian Nations.

Hard selling Assam’s immense potential, the CM said, “Assam and other northeastern states are close to ASEAN nations. We have land borders with Myanmar. Many of ASEAN capitals are within a 2,000-kilometre flying distance from Guwahati which is comparable to a flying distance of Guwahati to many Indian cities. We are keen to start flights between Guwahati and ASEAN capitals. The construction of a new terminal building at Guwahati airport is going to start soon. There is a motorable road link, the ASEAN trilateral highway connecting northeast and ASEAN”.

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Sonowal interacting with participants.

Sonowal moreover reiterated that Assam is the largest among eight northeastern states of India with a population of 33 million and the state is blessed with a large variety of natural resources and very rich biodiversity. Assam is dotted with five National Parks and 18 Wildlife sanctuaries. He, however, said, “Recognizing this wealth as our fundamental strength, our vision is to grow in an economy with the growth of ecology and we have decided to plant 100 million trees every year in a mission mode to make the state to be a front-runner and join the Global efforts against climate change”.

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Speaking about the verdant water resources in the State, Sonowal said that both the Brahmaputra and Barak along with their many tributaries have a huge potential for river transport, tourism and industry. In order to make the rivers navigable, dredging has been taken up both in Barak and Brahmaputra to facilitate state’s access to the Bay of Bengal through Chittagong port in Bangladesh in near future.

The state ranks 3rd amongst the raw silk producing states in India. Over 80 percent Muga silk and over 60 percent of Eri silk produced in India comes from Assam.The North Eastern region has the highest concentration of Bamboo resources in the country. Assam Tea is famous throughout the world. Assam has around 850 tea gardens and 1,30,000 small tea growers. Moreover, 20 golf courses and heritage clubs embedded in the scenic tea gardens provide a huge impetus to tea tourism. The Petroleum industry in India started at Digboi in Assam and the state today has four refineries and significant petroleum as well as natural gas reserves, Sonowal added.

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