Aizawl: The second of four G20 meetings in the Northeast was held in Mizoram on March 2, 2023, in the presence of 48 overseas business delegates, 17 diplomats from 17 countries, 85 entrepreneurs from Mizoram and 16 participants from other parts of the country.
The main leg of the program was held in the Mizoram University, where the inaugural session started with opening remarks from Pradeep Bagla, Co-Chairman, CII North East Council followed by speeches from Som Parkash, Minister of State for Commerce & Industries, Government of India, Dr R K Ranjan Singh, Minister of State, External Affairs, Rupa Dutta, Principal Economic Adviser, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Government of India, Chief Minister Zoramthanga and Dr Renu Sharma, Chief Secretary, Government of Mizoram.
In the program’s plenary session, the focus was on opportunities for Multilateral Business Partnerships in Urban planning, Infrastructure, Bamboo, Startups, Skill Development, Handloom & Handicraft, Nursing and Paramedics. Presentations were given by state government officials and entrepreneurs.
The G20 B20 meeting in Mizoram had a theme – bamboo. It started from the moment the guests landed at the airport. The guests were welcomed to a bamboo-themed Lengpui airport.
On the day of the meeting, the entry paths were lined with bamboo pots and displays and, the speeches more or less pertained to the abundance of bamboo in the state and why they are a viable choice of investment for the visiting dignitaries and their representation countries.
Chief Minister Zoramthanga has had bamboo on as hit top agenda for many years. Almost 90% of his speeches on grand occasions which pertain to Mizoram include the topic of bamboo. So it is not surprising that when the state hosted a G20 meeting for the first time in history, the focus was put on ‘bamboo.’
In his speech, he spoke on the abundance of bamboo in the state, saying, “As you know here more than 50% of the land is covered by bamboo, natural bamboo which God has given us from our ancestors’ time. And scientists said by calculation there will be around 25 million metric tonnes of bamboo, most of them unutilized. So what shall we do with this? It is a total substitute for timber for making all the furniture for all the ceilings and for all the flooring and for making cloth making paper and everything. It is almost like a magic wand so you can produce it into a lot of things.”
The Chief Minister referred to the plant as a magic wand to transform the atmosphere saying,
“God has given us a very good machine that will purify the world’s atmosphere of this planet. And economically it is a magic wand…Environmentalists are bringing up the problem of carbon, in the meantime, we can produce bamboo that can take in those carbon three to four times more than a tree, and produce oxygen three to four times than a tree. If really God speaks out loudly, he will say – You the Indian people, you the Mizo people, you stupid people, I have given you bamboo for the purification of the atmosphere and I have given you as a magic wand you do not know how to activate it. Therefore be wise.”
He appealed to the dignitaries and guests gathered at the hall to seek investment in the state saying they should go back and tell people, “There is the far northeastern state of India there is a small state which is called Mizoram more than 30000 square km of land full of green things where everything thrives well where investment can be done at a very profitable price.”
The bamboo-bearing area in Mizoram is estimated to be 4561 square kilometres with almost 22% of Mizoram covered in bamboo.
Opposition parties have often condemned the Chief Minister’s bamboo initiatives saying it bears no truth. Last year at a press conference, ZPM leader Lalduhoma remarked that the state’s Bamboo Policy has no collective support and that officials of the state agriculture department are unaware of the policy. He alleged that the Bamboo Policy, introduced in 2006 by the MNF, is being misused by Chief Minister Zoramthanga for personal gains and that it was a major failure.
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In 2021, the Congress youth accused chief minister Zoramthanga of suffering from the bamboo syndrome virus. A statement issued by the youth wing said the chief minister’s bamboo policy had proved a major failure during the previous Mizo National Front (MNF) government.
“During his previous government, Zoramthanga had promised to develop Mizoram through bamboo cultivation and transform the state into Switzerland of the East. But his policy was a major disaster as crores of money were wasted due to which he became public mockery,” the youth Congress said in a statement.
Also Read | At B20 meet, Zoramthanga pitches Mizoram’s vast resources to industry
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