The Telegraph
Wednesday , June 25 , 2014
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Centre plans white revolution in cultural hub

- Sonowal asks Majuli administration to suggest schemes to revive its traditional dairy farming

Jorhat, June 24: The Centre is planning to turn Majuli island in Jorhat district of Upper Assam into a milk producers’ hub.

This seat of Vaishnavite culture was known as a major centre for producing milk and milk products in the state with its large number of traditional khutis (small sheds where cows and buffaloes are reared). But massive floods and erosion by the Brahmaputra in recent times have hampered the island’s unorganised milk sector with people losing cattle and land to the mighty river.

In a bid to revive the island’s traditional dairy farming and make it a hub of milk production, Union minister of state for skill development, sports and youth affairs, Sarbananda Sonowal, has asked the Majuli subdivisional administration to carry out a survey and prepare a detailed proposal to develop dairy farming in an organised way. For this, he also plans to set up a modern processing unit with necessary infrastructure for collection, storage and marketing of milk and its products. Majuli is an Assembly seat under Sonowal’s Lakhimpur Lok Sabha constituency.

Majuli subdivisional officer (civil) Laya Madduri told The Telegraph that Sonowal, who had visited Majuli earlier this week — his first after assuming charge as Union minister — had asked the administration to prepare a detailed project report for taking up organised dairy farming on the island.

He directed the administration to engage the veterinary department and the Dairy Development Board to carry out a survey on the khutis existing in and around the island and suggest ways to upgrade them so that local entrepreneurs could set up modern dairy farms with government assistance. The SDO said the proposal would include setting up of collection and storage centres and a milk-processing unit in Majuli and a distribution network for marketing milk and its products.

The minister wants the projects to be run under public-private mode, with people participating in managing the projects and the government providing aid and guidance through its departments.

After getting the proposal, Sonowal will pursue the matter with the ministry and the departments concerned to get the project sanctioned, the SDO added.

Sonowal also asked the island administration to make proposals for taking up projects to enhance connectivity by building bridges and roads in the island and to boost the tourism sector. He discussed providing training and guidance to local entrepreneurs to make home-stay facility available to tourists. The SDO said there was demand for home-stays by tourists to get a feel of the local lifestyle — the food, culture, costumes and other traditions.

Efforts have been made in the past too to make the fresh water island, known for its unique cultural heritage and flora and fauna, a leading tourist destination within and outside the country.

The minister said he would try to get the projects funded by the DoNER ministry.

The SDO said Sonowal has asked the state public works department (roads) to submit a proposal for double-laning of the Kamalabari-Dhakuakhana (Lakhimpur district) road.

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