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Assam’s First literary festival is the new attraction in the North East

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Books. Pixabay

Assam, Jan 28, 2017: Assam is the new member of the cities organising literary jamborees group. Assam’s BLF ie. Brahmaputra Literary Festival is the new attraction in the already mesmerising North-east. BLF will last for three days wherein it will witness the participation of approximately 150 authors from India and abroad.

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BLF is a well-planned event organised by the National Book Trust and the Assam government. It will host 60-panel discussions, book releases, readings and culture events including screenings of films based on books, musical and dance performances.

NBT Director and a Sahitya Akademi winning Assamese author Dr Rita Choudhury gave a statement saying, “We have aimed to make the festival a landmark event of the country’s literary calendar which will not only expose people to interact with famed litterateurs but also take literature of the northeast to the rest of the country and the world.”

“There are many popular literary festivals in the country but the northeast with such a rich literary tradition, both past and contemporary, is yet to have one and the BLF wants to change that,” Choudhury said.

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“We hope that the festival will become an annual feature of the country’s literary calendar and not only encourage new ideas and their dissemination but also offer a platform for intellectual exchanges,” she said.

Carlo Pizzati from Italy, Clara Penalvar from Spain, Randy Teguchi from Japan, Linda Christanty from Indonesia, Dhunpal Raj Heeraman and Ramdeo Dhorundhur from Mauritius, Rajivawizesinha from Sri Lanka and Selina Hossain and Shaheen Akhtar from Bangladesh are few of the many contemporary authors that are expected to participate in the festival. The festival will be inaugurated by Union Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar.

– prepared by Shambhavi Sinha of NewsGram. Twitter:  @shambhavispeaks

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First CNG station Opened in Dibrugarh, Assam

Assam CM launches state's first CNG station in Dibrugarh

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first cng pump of assam
Assam's CM inaugurated the first-ever CNG fuelling station of the state in Dibrugarh. WikiMedia Commons

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday inaugurated the first-ever CNG fuelling station of the state in Dibrugarh.

Sonowal said that to make Assam free from air pollution and to promote the use of clean and green fuel, State government is preparing a roadmap for setting up CNG fuelling station in all districts of the state.

He also said that since vehicular emissions take a toll on the health of the people, the State government is working sincerely to promote the use of compressed natural gas in the state.

assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurates first CNG pump. WikiMedia Commons

“Making a pollution-free state is one of the primary objectives of the government and therefore, the government, has been taking series of steps to make Assam free from the scourge of pollution and its manifestations,” he said.

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“With the use of CNG, every citizen can contribute to a pollution-free environment for the future generation of the state”, Sonowal added. (IANS)

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Assam Government Relaxes Restrictions on Cultivation of Scented Agar Tree

This will promote cultivation of Agar and Chandan in the state

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In a landmark decision, the Cabinet approved growing and cutting of Agar and Chandan trees on non-forest lands. Pixabay

In a welcome move, the Assam government has relaxed the restrictions on cultivation of the scented Agar tree.

“In a landmark decision, the Cabinet approved growing and cutting of Agar and Chandan trees on non-forest lands. This will promote cultivation of Agar and Chandan in the state. The Cabinet also approved setting up of an International Trade Centre for Agar in Golaghat,” said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in a tweet.

‘Aquilaria malaccensis’, which is locally known as Xasi or Agar, is used in world class perfumeries as a fixative and is highly prized by European perfumers for mixing their best grade scents. It acts as a stimulant, cardio tonic and carminative, aphrodisiac, alternative anodyne, anti-diarrheal, anti-asthmatic and astringent.

“The Assam cabinet has kind of liberalized the Agar plantation and its felling. Now there is no need for registration for Agar cultivation up to 35 bighas of land. This is going to boost the state’s economy to a great extent,” said a senior industry department officer in Assam.

Assam, Government, Agar Tree
In a welcome move, the Assam government has relaxed the restrictions on cultivation of the scented Agar tree. Flickr

The plantation of Agar tree is seen in Assam’s Sibsagar, Sadiya, Nagaon, Darrang, Goalpara and Cachar districts of Assam. Apart from Assam, the tree is also grown in Khasi Hills and Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya and also found in the forests of Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.

The All Assam Agar Traders and Agar Oil Manufacturers’ Association has been demanding the state government to exempt agar wood from the purview of Assam Wood Based Industries (Establishment and Regulation) Rules 2000 and bringing them under the Secondary Wood Based Industries.

“As Agar wood was classified under the wood based industries, cutting of Agar tree was not allowed and there was requirement of registration for sending the same outside,” said the senior official adding that the move would also help stop the illegal Agar trade, which is estimated to be of Rs 10,000 Crore.

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At present the Hojai district in Assam is the hub of distilling the agar oil. More than two lakh people are directly dependent on this Agar cultivation and illegal Agar trade in Assam. In Hojai alone, there are over 2,000 distillation units of Agar. (IANS)

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Assam Tea Growers Start No Sickles Campaign to Ensure the Overall Quality of Assam Tea

During the last 35 years there has been a huge increase in the land area under tea cultivation

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Although Assam tea is known worldwide for its quality due to hand plucking of 'two leaves and a bud', some of the gardens have resorted to harvesting tea leaves. Pixabay

To ensure the overall quality of Assam tea, the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) has started a ‘No sickles’ campaign among the tea gardens of Assam.

Although Assam tea is known worldwide for its quality due to hand plucking of ‘two leaves and a bud’, some of the gardens have resorted to harvesting tea leaves with sickles (which is popularly known as kasi) affecting the quality of the tea.

Chairman of NETA, Nepul Saikia said this on Wednesday while adding that the organization has started the campaign “Say NA to Kasi for tea harvesting” from today and added that the campaign is basically to bring awareness amongst the tea producers not to use sickles during harvesting of tea leaves.

He said that during the last 35 years there has been a huge increase in the land area under tea cultivation. In 1990, Assam’s tea production was only 388 million kgs which has grown to 692 million kgs in 2018.

Assam, Tea Growers, Sickles
To ensure the overall quality of Assam tea, the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) has started a ‘No sickles’ campaign. Pixabay

“There has been an increase of about 300 million kgs in 28 years which is about 80 per cent increase in production in 2018 compared to 1990 figures. However, there is a shortage of workers in peak cropping months – July, August, September and October. To overcome the shortage of workers some growers have resorted to harvesting tea leaves with sickles,” he said adding that the tea leaves harvested with sickles are of very poor quality and this is one of the major reasons for the quality failure of Assam tea.

“As per the latest Tea Board figures, about 49 per cent of tea produced in Assam is from the green tea leaves by small tea growers. Though a majority of small tea growers do not use sickles throughout the year we have started this campaign before it is too late”, said Saikia.

“This campaign is to basically bring awareness amongst tea growers on the harvesting of quality tea and also to bring the attention of policymakers in providing growers with substitutes like shears, battery operated plucking machines and one/two men operated harvesting machines”, said Bidyananda Barkakoty, Adviser NETA.

The Tea Board has a field mechanization scheme of 25 per cent subsidy on plucking and pruning machines for general category and 100 per cent subsidy for SC & ST. “This scheme can be further popularized amongst the growers and subsidy amount should be increased to 75 per cent for general category”, Barkakoty added.

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“A Guwahati-based investor is developing a plucking machine with an Israeli technique and we are expecting a prototype of it in October. This plucking machine which is in the designing stage now will help in selective harvesting of tea leaves similar to hand plucking”, he added. (IANS)