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Conrad lays stress on doubling size of Meghalaya economy
Staff correspondent

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma taking the salute at the Independence Day function at the Polo Ground in Shillong on Thursday. – UB Photos
 SHILLONG, Aug 16 - Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Thursday said Meghalaya’s economy needs to double and become a $10 billion economy in the next five years.

After unfurling the Tricolour at the Polo Grounds on the occasion of the 73rd Independence Day, Sangma said investments by both government and private sectors is necessary to double the economy.

Sangma underlined tourism, mining, agriculture and foreign trade as the bedrock for the economic transformation in the next five years.

“The size of Meghalaya’s economy is about Rs 30,000 crore or $ 4.2 billion. As the Indian economy expands to become 5 trillion dollars by 2024-25, Meghalaya’s economy also needs to double in the next five years,” Sangma said.

Giving further details of the economic development roadmap, he said, Meghalaya as a tourist destination has “phenomenal potential,” but this sector now contributes less than 5 per cent to the State GDP.

“We want to promote Meghalaya as a sustainable high-value tourist destination. We are in talks with international brands like Airbnb for promoting the State,” he said.

Focus will be on the promising village eco-tourism sector. “We have many villages having unique selling points and can be marketed in a sustainable way,” Sangma added.

On mining, Sangma termed the recent Supreme Court ruling to lift the 2014 ban on coal mining, as a “big victory for the people of the State”. He said the State has 576 million tonnes of coal reserves and about 9,300 million tonnes of limestone deposits with a total value of $ 180 billion at the current market price.

“The Government is now putting in place systems for sustainable mining so that the present and future generation can reap the benefits of these important resources,” he said.

The Government, he added, has launched a system for QR-coding and app-based scanning of challans used by the Forest and Mineral Resources departments to prevent duplication of challans and improve the royalty collection on minerals.

In the agro sector, Sangma said the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) Government has launched several mission mode programmes to accelerate growth.

“The market lead of Amazon, USA, visited the turmeric farms of Shangpung areas and discussed the possibilities for bulk procurement for the US markets. Another San Francisco-based spice company has also expressed the desire to source turmeric directly from the farmers,” Sangma said.

He also highlighted the Aroma Mission launched in collaboration with the Centre for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow, and the Meghalaya Milk Mission launched with a funding of Rs 215 crore from the National Cooperation Development Corporation.

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