Industries in Assam

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Tea

Of the agriculture-based industries, tea occupies an important place in Assam. The plants used to grow naturally in the Upper Brahmaputra valley. Robert Bruce, an official of the British empire, who is credited with the discovery of tea in Assam in 1823, gave publicity of the existence of the plant, the leaves of which were boiled to prepare the tea.

In Assam, tea is grown both in the Brahmaputra and Barak plains. Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagaon and Sonitpur are the districts where tea gardens are mostly found. Assam produces 51% of the tea produced in India and about 1/6th of the tea produced in the world.

In 1911 a Tea Research Centre was started at Toklai in Jorhat for developing more scientific and fruitful methods of cultivating tea plants, applying fertilizer, testing soil, selecting sites for garden and processing tea leaves. This is the oldest and largest Tea Research Centre in the world.

Instant tea project was established at the Tea Research Centre of Toklai Experimental Station in 1974. Instant tea is a golden coloured powder which dissolves in hot or cold water easily.

For a better marketing of the tea produced in Assam and the entire North EasternStates, a Tea Auction Centre - Guwahati Tea Auction Centre - was established in 1970 at Guwahati. This is the world's largest CTC tea auction centre and the world's second largest in terms of total tea. It now auctions more than 150 million kg of tea valued at more than Rs 550.00 crores annually.

Tea industry has contributed substantially to the economy of Assam. About 17 percent of the workers of Assam are engaged in the tea industry.

 

 
 

Oil

Assam is the first state in the country where in 1889 oil was struck at Digboi. Assam can boast of having the oldest oil refinery in the country. This refinery set up at Digboi, in Tinsukia district, started commercial production in 1901. The refinery, now belonging to the Assam Division of the Indian Oil Corporation, has a refining capacity of 3 lakh tonnes of petrol, kerosene, diesel and other petroleum products.

The second refinery in Assam was set up at Noonmati in Guwahati under the public sector. It started production in 1962. It produces liquified petroleum gas (LPG), petrol, kerosene, diesel, furnace oil, coke etc.

The third refinery in the region was established at Dhaligoan near Bongaigaon in 1962. It is known as Bongaigaon Refinery and Petro-Chemicals Limited (BRPL).

The fourth refinery in the state was established at Numaligarh of Golaghat district in 1999, with a refining capacity of 3 million tonnes of oil and other products.

 
 

Natural Gas

Like petroleum, natural gas is a valuable source of power and various other chemical by-products. In Assam, almost all the petroleum producing areas of the Brahmaputra Valley, especially Naharkatia, Moran, Lakuwa and Rudrasagar, contains 'associated natural gas'. The important industries so far built up on the basis of the natural gas of Assam are Namrup Fertilizer Factory, Namrup Thermal Power Project, Production of Carbon Black, Assam Petrochemicals and Assam Gas Company, which provides liquified petroleum gas for domestic use. There are LPG bottling plants at Duliajan, North Guwahati, Silchar etc. The BRPL also uses natural gas as raw material to produce various chemicals.

 

 
 

Coal

Assam has large reserves of coal too. The State is said to contain about 1200 million tonnes of coal reserves. The first coal mining in the region was started in 1865 at the Makum coal-fields by the erstwhile Assam Railway and Trading Company and now it is mined by the North-Eastern Coal-Fields.

The coal belt extends from Dilli-Joypur in the west to Tipok in the east. The entire coal in this region is unique in the sense that it is highly volatile(36% - 42%), has low ash content (3% - 15%) and possesses high crackling index ( 10% - 29%).

Coal is found in Koilajan, Umrangshu, Khota-Arda in the Hills District of Assam and is mined by the Assam Mineral Development Corporation

 

 
 

Granite

Assam is endowed with granites of variegated colours, ranging from off-white to grey and pink. It is found in central and lower parts of Assam. The grey granite is extensively used in road making and as a railway ballast. So far, it has hardly been exploited for decorative purposes and has great potential.

 

 
 

Limestone and Cement

Limestone is an important mineral which is used in the manufacture of cement, as flux in iron and steel production, and as raw materials for chemical industries. The Kailajan and Dilai area of Bokajan sub-division have high quality limestone, which is used in the Bokajan Cement Factory. Assam has only one large cement factory in Bokajan, in Karbi Anglong district. It now produces about 1.8 lakh metric tonnes of cement annually. Besides this there are a few mini cement plants in the North Cachar Hills based on limestone produced in the Umrangsho area of Assam.

 

 
 

Tourism

Tourism has become an important industry in many countries of the world, both in the east and the west. Various initiatives are being taken by the Government and other organisations to promote tourism here. Every year the number of visitors to Assam has been steadily increasing.

 

 
 

Cottage Industry

Assam was traditionally famous for it's cottage industry, especially spinning and weaving. Pat or pure silk production is essentially confined to Assam. Assam produces about 10% of total natural silk of India.

Assam also produces Muga, the golden silk. Assam is also the main producer of Eri or Endi. Weaving is an important cottage industry of Assam. It is a traditional industry which can be traced back to very ancient times.

There are about 7,00,000 looms in Assam, where majority are primitive foot looms. Only some looms of Sualkuchi, used for commercial production of silk cloth, are powerised.

 

 
 

Other Industries

Bell-metal work is a traditional cottage industry of Assam. The normal products of bell-metal are the traditional plates, cups, tumblers, pitchers, bowls, sarais (a tray with a stand), dwarf pitchers, pots, hookahs and musical instruments.

Brass-work is also an important traditional handicraft of Assam. Brass articles are produced not only for day-to-day use, but also for interior decoration. The totalproduction of marketable finished goods annually is about 300 tonnes.

Apart from the above, some other cottage industries have come up in the State. These include ivory work of Barpeta; pottery industry of Hajo, Singimari, Mornoi; bamboo and cane work specially in the hills; goldsmithy, coir industry of Nalbari; hand-made paper industry of Chandkhuchi in Nalbari district; soap making in almost all important towns of the State etc.

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