Tripura Industries and Commerce Minister Jitendra Chowdhury has urged the government to withdraw its decision to reduce import duty on bamboo-made incense sticks to 10 per cent and restore original import duty of 30 per cent, as it would put livelihood of lakhs of people at stake.
In a letter to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday, Mr. Chowdhury said, “Tripura exports 28,600 MT incense sticks per year and livelihood of lakhs of people depends on selling of these sticks”.
He pointed out that the bamboo sticks from the North-East has a good market in Bangalore and Mysore, but the region has to compete with Vietnam and China to sell the sticks in Indian market.
Transportation cost in the region ranges from Rs 7.50 to Rs 8.00 per kg stick as the region is landlocked, while China and Vietnam have better connectivity.
“In such a situation our bamboo-based artisans will not be able to survive profitably and the livelihood of more than five lakh people in the region will be at stake,” Mr. Chowdhury said.
Incense sticks are one of the most popular household income generation activities especially among the forest dependent communities in the State, he added in the letter.
North-East contributes around 90 percent to the incense stick requirement of the country, out of which Tripura alone contributes about 70 per cent.
The turnover of incense sticks sub-sector has risen from Rs 12.90 core in 2006-2007 to Rs 54.03 crore in 2010-11, due to value addition by the State government.
He further informed that an OTC brand incense stick manufacturing unit has come up in the State, while ITC has inked an agreement of procuring of the entire production of the State.